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Vaccines Work

European Immunisation Week (EIW) is celebrated across the European Region every April to raise awareness of the importance of immunisation for people’s health and well-being.

This year we will be celebrating #VaccineHeroes and explaining why its important to #KeepVaccinating during Covid-19.

We spoke to some vaccine heroes, read their stories here 

Download and share our Vaccines Work Facts

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Immunisation Facts

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It is important your child gets their vaccines on time, every time

Your child needs to have their vaccines at the right age so they are protected. Young children are most at risk of getting some infectious diseases and need to be protected as early as possible.

For example, if your child is younger than six months they are at the highest risk for serious complications of whooping cough (6 out of 10 children in this age group need to go into hospital, and 9 out of 10 deaths from whooping cough are in this age group).

Your child must be given rotavirus vaccine before 8 months of age to prevent diarrhoea and vomiting. This is because in very rare cases they can get a blockage in their gut if the vaccine is given later.

Your child needs a number of vaccines to get the best protection, so it is important they complete the course of vaccines.

Book your appointment to make sure your child is fully protected.

Read our tips for getting vaccinated during Covid-19

Visit "CDC" for additional information

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The best way to protect your child and others is to complete the vaccination schedule

Your child needs a full course of vaccines to give them the best protection now and in the future.

They need 5 GP visits between 2 and 13 months.

It is very important they get their vaccines at 12 and 13 months to provide protection against serious disease such as meningitis. Visit "Vaccination schedule" for additional information

Make an appointment with your GP if your child has missed some of their vaccines so they are fully protected. Visit "Late entrant guidelines" for additional information

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Serious diseases will come back if we do not vaccinate

Vaccines given in Ireland prevent 13 diseases including measles, meningitis and pertussis (whooping cough). These diseases may result in serious complications including death. Outbreaks of these serious infectious diseases will occur if people are not vaccinated.

There has been an increase in the number of cases of Measles and Mumps in Ireland in recent months. In the first 15 weeks of 2020 2459 cases of Mumps and 15 cases of measles have been reported. Visit "Mumps" for additional information

  • In the last 12 months there have been over 11,576 cases of measles in the WHO European region.
  • There were 2 deaths from diphtheria in Belgium and Spain in the past 5 years.
  • Polio continues to occur in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

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Vaccines protect the wider community

Some people cannot get vaccines and it is important we are all vaccinated to protect them.

For example,

  • some children with a weakened immune system cannot be given the MMR vaccine
  • babies under 6 months of age are too young to be fully protected against whooping cough.

Both of these groups are very vulnerable to the serious complications of these diseases and depend on others being vaccinated to be protected.

Visit "History of vaccines - Herd immunity" for additional information

Vaccines are safe

All vaccines have undergone rigorous studies to ensure that they are safe and effective before they are licensed.

They are continually monitored by medicine regulatory authorities in Ireland, Europe and by the World Health Organization.

Most vaccine reactions are minor. Serious side effects occur rarely and are immediately investigated.

Vaccine preventable diseases are far more likely to harm than the vaccine developed to prevent it.

If 1,000 people get Meningococcal C                                          50 will die

If 1,000 people are immunised                                                    50 will have discomfort, redness and swelling where the injection was given or will have a fever

Visit "Vaccine preventable diseases" for additional information

Visit "WHO" for additional information

Vaccines have reduced the number of infectious diseases in Ireland.

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Vaccines are effective

Most vaccines protect at least 9 out of 10 children who get them. Sometimes immunity (protection) wanes so booster doses are needed when your child is older.

Visit "Do vaccines always work?" for additional information

how vaccines work

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Combined vaccines provide the best protection

Combined vaccines are more efficient in protecting your child from diseases than separate, single vaccine injections.

Combined vaccines also reduce the number of necessary injections meaning quicker protection, less pain, less stress and less possible side effects for your child e.g. when your child has the 6in1 vaccine they only need 3 injections instead of 18.

Research on the immune system has shown that your infant’s immune system can deal with almost 10,000 vaccines at one time. So if your child had all 13 recommended vaccines in the childhood immunisation schedule given together, they would use an extremely small portion of their immune system.

If your child has a common cold they are exposed to far more foreign substances than vaccines.

Visit "Vaccine knowledge project - combination vaccines and multiple vaccinations" for additional information

HPV vaccine is safe and effective

HPV vaccine prevents most cases of cervical cancer, vulval, vaginal and anal cancer. It also protects against most cases of genital warts.

Each year in Ireland 406 people develop a HPV related cancer. 

HPV vaccine is safe and effective.

HPV vaccine does not cause any long term medical condition.

HPV vaccine now protects against 9 out of 10 cervical cancers.

Countries with high vaccine uptake rates have seen the best impact. In Scotland 90% girls have been vaccinated since 2008. There has been a 90% fall in HPV infections in vaccinated girls which is even better than expected. Precancerous growths of the cervix have been reduced by up to 75% in countries such as Australia, Sweden and Scotland.

Visit BMJ for article "Prevalence of cervical disease at age 20 after immunisation with bivalent HPV vaccine at age 12-13 in Scotland: retrospective population study"

Visit "HPV Facts" for additional information

Visit "Video: How the HPV vaccine works" for additional information 

Visit "Video: Monitoring the side effects of the HPV vaccine" for additional information

Vaccines are important for pregnant women

If you are pregnant you should get pertussis (whooping cough) vaccine during every pregnancy.

Whooping cough is a highly infectious illness which is most serious in children under 6 months. These children are too young to be fully vaccinated.

You should be vaccinated between 16 and 36 weeks gestation. Getting the vaccine at this time gives your baby the best protection during their first few months of life.

Visit "Pertussis vaccine in pregnancy" for additional information

You get the flu vaccine as you are at higher risk of severe complications from flu.

The vaccine protects you during pregnancy and provides on-going protection to your unborn baby during their first few months of life.

Flu vaccine can be given at any stage of pregnancy.

Visit "Flu vaccine in pregnancy" for additional information

People trust what healthcare workers say about vaccines

We know healthcare workers are the most trusted source for information about vaccines.

Every conversation is an opportunity to promote vaccination.

It is important to keep up to date with the latest information which is available from our website www.immunisation.ie

Our website is part of the Vaccine Safety Net, a global network of websites accredited by the World Health Organization that provide reliable information on vaccine safety.

Visit "WHO vaccine safety" for additional information

Visit "WHO EIW Materials" for additional information

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This page was updated on 21 April 2020