What immunisations should you get?
We all need to make sure we're up to date with routine vaccinations, and you can also opt to be immunised against the flu.
"It's most important to follow the vaccination schedule, and most children are very well protected by 12 months for the most common childhood illnesses," says Eydis Konradsdottir, a child health expert and mum to three boys. "If someone has missed their vaccinations, then they need to develop a catch-up plan." Making sure you're up to date protects both you and your children, as well as any newborn babies and vulnerable people you come into contact with.
Why do you need them?
Immunisation is a simple and effective way to avoid the flu and other diseases that can make you seriously ill and sometimes cause death. And nobody wants that!
Some people think of the flu as a bad cold, but it's much more serious – it causes thousands of hospitalisations every year. "It's important for kids to avoid getting the flu because it can make other children extremely sick," says Konradsdottir.
When enough of us are immunised, we stop the disease from spreading and can eventually wipe it out for good in Australia.
When do you need to get them?
The immunisation schedule tells us when children should have their routine immunisations, and they can have the flu vaccine after six months of age.
To get the most protection from the flu vaccine, get it as soon as it's available each year or in early autumn (around March to April), before the flu season begins. Typically the flu season occurs between July and October, and peaks in August). After you get the vaccine, it takes two to three weeks to protect you, so the sooner, the better. Some evidence suggests the optimal time to get vaccinated is in May, however you should consult your healthcare professional regarding the timing of your annual flu vaccination as the flu season can be different from year to year.
How often do they need to be updated?
Although many of the routine vaccinations protect us for decades, Konradsdottir says we need the flu vaccine every year, as each flu season brings different strains of the virus."A lot of studies have shown that you do get some accumulated protection from the flu vaccine, and the more regularly you get it, the better protected you are."
What if immunisation leads to fever?
After an immunisation, some children develop a mild fever. It doesn't mean they're sick, but it shows that their immune system is learning how to recognise and destroy the virus or bacteria they were immunised against.
However, the fever can make children uncomfortable. ""[In this case], giving [a] simple [antipyretic which reduces fever] is appropriate,"" says Konradsdottir. A product containing ibuprofen, a common [antipyretic and] analgesic (which reduces pain), may be just what the child health expert ordered. Nurofen for Children contains ibuprofen and helps reduce your child's temperature. If they're very unwell, check with your doctor.
Although immunisation can't help protect us from colds, modern science does help protect our children from many distressing and serious diseases. Keeping up to date with immunisations helps our families stay healthy during the cooler months – and all year round.