Immunization is the process whereby a person is made immune or resistant to an infectious disease, typically by the administration of a vaccine. Vaccines stimulate the body’s own immune system to protect the person against subsequent infection or disease.

Immunization is a proven tool for controlling and eliminating life-threatening infectious diseases and is estimated to avert between 2 and 3 million deaths each year.

Vaccination does not require any lifestyle change. Talk to your doctor about immunizations for your child and yourself.

Questions and answers on immunization and vaccine safety

1. With adequate levels of hygiene, sanitation and clean water, is there still a need for vaccination?

While better hygiene, sanitation and clean water help protect people from infectious diseases, many infections can spread regardless of how clean we are. If people are not vaccinated, diseases that have become uncommon such as pertussis (whooping cough), polio and measles, will quickly reappear.

2. Are vaccines safe?

Vaccines are safe. Any licensed vaccine is rigorously tested across multiple phases of trials before it is approved for use, and regularly reassessed once it is on the market. Scientists are also constantly monitoring information from several sources for any sign that a vaccine may cause an adverse event. Most vaccine reactions are usually minor and temporary, such as a sore arm or mild fever. In the rare event a serious side effect is reported, it is immediately investigated.

3. Do vaccines provide better immunity than natural infections?

Vaccines interact with the immune system to produce an immune response similar to that produced by the natural infection, but they do not cause the disease or put the immunized person at risk of its potential complications.

4. Do I need to be vaccinated against diseases that I do not see in my community or my country?

In a highly inter-connected world, many diseases can cross geographical borders and infect anyone who is not protected. Two key reasons to get vaccinated are to protect ourselves and to protect those around us.

5. Can a child be given more than one vaccine at a time?

Scientific evidence shows that giving several vaccines at the same time has no negative effect on a child’s immune system. Children are exposed to several hundred foreign substances that trigger an immune response every day. A number of steps can also be taken to minimise the pain of the multiple injections.

6. Do I need to be protected against influenza through vaccination?

Influenza is a serious disease that kills between 300.000 to 500.000 people worldwide every year. Pregnant women, small children, elderly people with poor health and anyone with a chronic condition, like asthma or heart disease, are at higher risk for severe infection and death.

7. What about vaccines and autism?

There is no evidence of a link between MMR vaccine and autism or autistic disorders.

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