We can't protect our children from everything. However, immunisation is one of the most effective ways to prevent disease and saves about 3 million lives each year throughout the world.
Your young child should have received immunisations at 2, 4, 6, 12 and 18 months with the last vaccination due at 4 years. Each child's immunisation record is now kept on the Australian Childhood Immunisation Register. If you are unsure if your child is up-to-date, you can ring 1800 653 809 to check the details.
The latest immunisation myths
The anti-vaccination lobby has once again been busy spreading misinformation. Reports from the UK raised fears that measles-mumps-rubella vaccination causes bowel diseases and autism. However, careful scientific evaluation has found no link between the two.
Recently, reports from France suggested that hepatitis B shots may cause multiple sclerosis. Once again, further review found that there was no connection.
There is also no proof homeopathic 'vaccines' work and they are not recommended. Even the Medical Association for Homeopathy advises standard vaccinations.
Over the last few years, new vaccines have been developed for chicken pox, hepatitis A and pneumococcal infection (which can cause pneumonia and meningitis). These are not provided in the routine schedule.
The government recently announced it will provide free meningococcal immunisation to all Australian children 12 months of age and 15 years of age. This campaign will commence in early 2003.
For more information, speak to your doctor or visit the Immunise Australia website, http://immunise.health.gov.au/.
Please note this information was correct at time of printing.
For up to date information, speak to your doctor.