Vaccinations - Medic8 Health Guide
Vaccinations have saved more human lives than any other medical invention, discovery or innovation. There are many different types of vaccine, which are designed to protect against a host of infections and illnesses. Many diseases have become uncommon as a result of vaccination programmes, while others have been completely wiped out in the UK.
The childhood vaccination programme has helped to eradicate some common childhood diseases and reduce the number of cases of others dramatically. The NHS provides routine vaccines for all children in the UK and parents are advised at what time to bring in their children for injections. Vaccines are usually given by practice nurses at GP surgeries.
Childhood vaccines include:
- Meningitis (MenC).
- Pneumococcal (PCV).
- 5-in-1 vaccine / jab (protects against polio, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis and Hib, also known as haemophilus influenza type B).
- MMR (protects against measles, mumps and rubella).
- Pre-school booster.
Over the course of the last few years, childhood vaccines have hit the headlines due to a notion that the MMR vaccine was somehow linked to an increased risk of autism. However, there is no evidence to support this and health experts are eager to encourage parents to get their children vaccinated.
If you are travelling abroad it may be wise to have some immunisations before you go. Travel vaccinations are available for a number of illnesses that are common in other parts of the world. Some vaccines have to be given a long time before you actually leave, so make sure you check travel advice and arrange your immunisations in plenty of time. Your GP will be able to advise you about which injections you need. Generally speaking, if you are travelling to Europe, America, Canada, New Zealand or Australia, you will not need injections, but you will almost certainly need them if you are going to Africa, South America or Asia. Examples of conditions that travel vaccines guard against include:
- Yellow fever.
- Hepatitis A.
- Hepatitis B.
- Japanese encephalitis.
- Tuberculosis (TB).
The HPV vaccine was recently introduced to try and reduce the number of cases of cervical cancer and protect against the Human Papilloma Virus, which is a known cause of cervical cancer. Other vaccines, including a meningitis booster and a teenage booster, which protects against tetanus, polio and diphtheria, may also be recommended.
Adults are usually only offered vaccines if they have a weakened immune system or they have a higher risk of developing an illness. Flu jabs, for example, are offered to people who have asthma and other respiratory illnesses and older people. Vaccines may also be recommended if there is an outbreak of an illness or infection. Students are often advised to have vaccines against mumps, for example.
Are vaccines safe?
Some people may worry about injections and this is understandable as most medications, procedures and treatments carry risks. However, vaccination is among the safest medical procedures and the benefits far outweigh the risks, especially for children since their immune systems are not fully developed and they are prone to infection. If you have any concerns about vaccination or you want to find out more, ask your GP or practice nurse.