Vaccination stimulates the immune system to produce antibodies, just like if you were exposed to the disease. This means that after vaccination you develop immunity to the disease without falling unwell.
Vaccines stop diseases and have altered our quality of life, preventing millions of deaths and illness across the world from conditions such as rubella, measles, hepatitis B and influenza.
Almost all children have received immunisations against diseases like diphtheria, mumps, measles and polio as part of our national immunisation programme.
However, few adults think of going for vaccinations like influenza or pneumococcal disease. Other important vaccines include hepatitis A and B, chicken pox, shingles and HPV vaccines for females between nine and 26-years-old. These vaccines help our nation stay as healthy as possible. If you think you may have missed a vaccination or aren’t sure if one may be right for you, talk to your doctor who can support you through this process.
Despite the effectiveness of these vaccines, it’s important to continue seeing your doctor and receiving regular screening. For example, even after receiving the HPV vaccine you are still advised to go for regular pap smears if you are sexually active, to ensure any cervical changes are detected and potentially find cervical cancer early.
Some people may be concerned that vaccines make you unwell. Although vaccines can cause side effects, most of them are minor (e.g. sore arm, low grade fever) and will go away after a few days. However, if you have a severe allergic reaction to a vaccine or high fever you should consult your doctor. If you develop an allergic reaction to the first dose of the vaccine, the following doses will not be recommended and your doctor will discuss other prevention methods.
The most important advice I can give is to make sure you put your health first and ensure your vaccinations are up-to-date. It could save your life.