About immunisation

Why we immunise

Immunisation is one of the best ways to protect yourself, your children, and others in our community against certain diseases through immunisation programs.

When a large percentage of the population are immunised against some specific diseases, it becomes harder for that disease to spread. If enough people in the community are immunised, the infection can no longer be spread from person to person and the disease could die out altogether.

Immunisation is a simple, safe and highly effective way of protecting children and adults from harmful diseases before they come into contact with them. It is estimated that vaccinations currently save up to 2.5 million lives worldwide each year.

The benefits of immunisation far outweigh the risks of illness and complications from the diseases they prevent.

How immunisation works

Immunisation uses the body’s natural defence mechanism – the immune response. When a person is vaccinated, their body produces an immune response in the same way their body would after exposure to a disease, but without the person suffering symptoms of the disease. When a person comes in contact with that disease in the future, their immune system will rapidly produce antibodies to prevent or reduce the severity of the disease.

Young children, particularly babies, do not have a well-developed immune system like older children and adults. Most vaccines need to be given more than once to build long lasting protection. It is important for children to complete the full recommended course or schedule of vaccinations at the recommended times. Sometimes it is possible to ‘catch-up’ the doses if the vaccinations are not given on time. Not getting the full course of vaccinations can leave a child unprotected and at risk of disease.

What to know before getting immunised

Your doctor or immunisation provider will check if you can be vaccinated by completing a pre-vaccination screening. Before you consent to being vaccinated, they should discuss the effects of the disease, the possible side effects of vaccination, and what to do to reduce the side effects.

You or your health professional can report vaccine reactions.


Vaccines recommended for children and adults on the National Immunisation Program are available at no cost to individuals who hold or are eligible for a Medicare card.

Other vaccines may be recommended, but not free to all groups; for example, the vaccines recommended for specific occupations or prior to travel overseas.

Further information

For more information about immunisations, contact your doctor or immunisation service provider.