As a parent, you may not like seeing your baby or child being given an injection. However, vaccination is an important step in protecting your child against a range of serious and potentially fatal diseases.
Vaccinations are quick, safe and extremely effective. Once your child has been vaccinated against a disease, their body can fight that disease more effectively if they come into contact with it. If a child isn't vaccinated, they will be at increased risk of catching the illness.
There will always be some children who are unavoidably unprotected because:
- they can't be vaccinated for medical reasons
- they're too young to be vaccinated
- they can't get to the vaccine services
- for a few, the vaccine doesn't work
But if more parents have their children vaccinated, then more children in the community will be protected against catching an illness. This lowers the chance of an outbreak of the disease.
The only time that it's safe to stop vaccinating children against an illness is when the disease has been wiped out worldwide.
For example, when every country had eliminated smallpox in 1979, vaccination against the disease was stopped. It's hoped that polio will soon be eradicated, and that measles may follow.
Can you overload a child's immune system?
You might be concerned that too many vaccines at a young age could 'overload' your child's immune system. But this really isn't the case. Studies have shown that vaccines do not weaken a child's immune system.
As soon as a baby is born, they come into contact with a huge number of different bacteria and viruses every day, and their immune system copes well with them.
The bacteria and viruses used in vaccines are weakened or killed and there are far fewer of them than the natural bugs that babies and children come into contact with. In fact, if a child was given 11 vaccines all at the same time, it would only use a thousandth of their immune system!