As we approach winter, it's a good idea to make sure your tamariki have had all the relevant vaccines.
What is immunisation?
Immunisation - or getting your jabs - is a way of preventing infectious diseases. Vaccinations are offered to babies, children and adults to protect against serious and preventable diseases like measles. Your body has a natural defence mechanism, the immunes response, and immunisations use this to build resistence to specific infections. This stops you getting the disease.
Is it compulsory?
It is not illegal to not vaccinated, although some childcare centres and schools may not readily enrol your child without proof of vaccination. Vaccination protects everyone, not just the vaccinated child. If a child at school is immune compromised then having a non vaccinated child at school could be dangerous to them.
Some people have religious or cultural objections to vaccination, and other people are concerned about safety. All vaccines approved for use in New Zealand have a good safety record and have ongoing safety monitoring. You can find out more at the University of Auckland Immunisation Advisory Centre website, or you can call 0800 IMMUNE to have your queries answered.
Is it free?
All childhood immunisations are free, and some adults can also have immunisations for free. If you want to know if you qualify speak to your social worker.
What immunisations should my child have had?
There is a national schedule timed for greatest effectiveness. Your Plunket nurse will be able to tell you more. Immunisations start when your baby is six weeks old, with boosters at three months, five months and 15 months. There are then another set of immunisations at four years including the MMR vaccine some people have concerns about. Feel free to ask questions.
At 11 or 12 years your child will be offered the HPV immunisation. This is especially important for girls as it dramatically reduced the risk of cervical cancer when they are older.
Does it hurt?
Most immunisations are injections, and while you might feel a little prick or sting, they don't hurt. Children rarely remember having them when they are older. Your child may feel a little unwell or have a raised temperature for a day after the immunisation. This is nothing to worry about.
For more information visit www.health.govt.nz