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Key points to remember about immunisation
- the benefits of immunisation far outweigh the risks
- Immunisations are free
- Immunisation on time is important for protection
- hepatitis B
- Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib)
- pneumococcal disease
- whooping cough, also known as pertussis
And the disease we can help protect against in girls and young women:
- cervical cancer
These diseases have been chosen for immunising against because they are among the most dangerous to our children and because we have effective vaccines available against them.
- click the name of the illness at the IMAC (Immunisation Advisory Centre) website
- see the Ministry of Health booklet Childhood immunisation: More information for parents
- call IMAC on 0800 IMMUNE (0800 466863), weekdays 9am-4.30 pm
The IMAC (Immunisation Advisory Centre) website has:
- an explanation, using pictures, of what happens when germs invade your body
IMAC’s FAQs (frequently asked questions) include answers to questions such as:
- why change the immunisations?
- how well does immunisation work?
- how safe is vaccination?
- does my child need all the recommended immunisations?
- why are combined immunisations given?
- will immunisation be too much for my baby’s immune system?
- what if my child has allergies or asthma?
- should children be immunised if they have a fever?
- how long will my child be protected by the diseases immunised against?
- what are the side effects of the different types of immunisations?
The Ministry of Health website provides:
- information about immunisation in New Zealand
- The Immunisation Handbook 2011 (provides detailed information for health professionals – it may be of interest to those parents who want more comprehensive information)
Vaccines are usually given by the practice nurse at your family doctor’s surgery.
It is important that your child has their full course to ensure continuing strong protection. Immunisations need to be given on time as delaying them leaves children unnecessarily vulnerable to infection.
Some children may have special requirements; for example, babies with specific risk factors may be offered hepatitis B immunisation early or the BCG vaccine to protect against tuberculosis. Discuss your own child’s needs with your doctor.
The IMAC website allows you to:
- build your own immunisation calendar
- register and receive email reminders of when your child’s next immunisation is due
For more information, see:
- the Ministry of Health website
- brochures for parents in English (at right) and the following languages: Arabic, Cook Island Māori, Fijian, Hindi, Korean, Māori, Niuean, Samoan, Simplified Chinese, Tongan,Tokelauan, Traditional Chinese
Parents can help decrease anxiety about immunisations in a number of ways:
- start immunising from an early age
- remain calm and relaxed, even when your child becomes upset
- breast feeding reduces the baby's pain
- book your appointment early in the day before everyone is tired
- plan a calm day
- bring along a stuffed toy or blanket for your child to hold during the immunisation, or use them yourself as a tool for distraction
- hold your child firmly during the procedure, talking calmly and gently stroking the child's arm or back
- after being pricked by the needle, your child may cry for a brief time. It is his or her way of coping. Your job is to comfort, hold, and talk supportively
- you will need to remain in the clinic for 20 minutes after the immunisation. Rather than leave immediately, stay in the practice until your child has calmed down. This will help your child to remember the clinic as a nice place and will help to make the next visit easier
- for babies, book your appointment to allow you to feed your child immediately after they have had their immunisation
Around one in ten children can expect a reaction to an immunisation. The vast majority of these are mild, such as redness on the arm or a grizzly child for a day or two. A reaction is an expected sign that the immune response is building and the vaccine is working. Occasionally, more concerning reactions occur like prolonged crying. Although worrying at the time, research shows there are no long-term problems following such reactions.
Very rarely, a serious allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) can happen. This is treatable and occurs very shortly after the injection. This is why you must wait at the clinic for 20 minutes after vaccination. If you are concerned, contact your practice nurse or doctor straightaway.
For information about the safety of vaccines, check the websites listed below.
Immunisation is not compulsory in New Zealand but it is a wise parenting choice. There is a lot of information on immunisation and this can be confusing. It is important to check out the source of the material before accepting the conclusions offered. Question critically:
- is it based on sound evidence?
- is it up-to-date information taking the latest research into consideration?
- does it relate to New Zealand?
You may find this table, on the IMAC website, useful. It compares the effects of diseases with the side effects of vaccines.
See the Childhood Immunisation: More information for parents booklet.
The immunisation section of the Ministry of Health website includes:
· The Immunisation Handbook 2011 - provides detailed information for health professionals and may be of interest to those parents who want more comprehensive information
· Immunisation Advisory Centre www.immune.org.nz
For questions on immunisation, vaccination-preventable diseases or a specific vaccine, you can contact the Immunisation Advisory Centre.
Call free on 0800 IMMUNE (0800 466863), weekdays 9am-4.30 pm
Medsafe - Consumer Medicine Information (CMI) www.medsafe.govt.nz
In some cases, more information on a particular vaccine is available on the Medsafe website. Go to consumer Medicine Information (CMI).
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This fact sheet was adapted from the kidshealth fact sheet: Immunisations complete fact sheet, © The Paediatric Society of New Zealand and Starship Foundation 2005 - 2011
produced in collaboration with IMAC (Immunisation Advisory Centre).