Why is immunisation so important?

Immunisation uses the body’s natural defence mechanism – the immune response – to build resistance to specific infectious diseases. Immunisation is one of the most effective strategies to protect children and adults against certain diseases (called ‘vaccine preventable diseases’).

For most vaccine preventable diseases, immunisation not only protects individuals but also others in our community by increasing the level of immunity such that when a large percentage of people in the population are immunised against a specific disease, it becomes harder for that disease to spread. This concept is known as ‘herd immunity’.

Vaccine preventable diseases can be serious and although side effects can occur from immunisation, the benefits of immunisation far outweigh the risks from the diseases they prevent.

Why is it important for all children to be immunised?

Immunisation provides direct protection against vaccine preventable diseases for an immunised child. In addition, for many vaccine preventable diseases, if most children are immunised, immunisation indirectly protects people who are unable to be immunised by decreasing spread of the disease. Some people cannot be immunised because they are too young to have some vaccines, or have certain medical conditions.

The more children who are immunised the greater our ability to control vaccine preventable diseases. Unless a child has medical reasons why immunisation cannot be given to them, all children should be immunised with all the recommended vaccines at the age scheduled to provide the best protection for that child and the community.

What is South Australia's immunisation rate?

Although immunisation coverage in South Australia is good, in most areas it falls short of the 95% target, with coverage between 86% and 95%. Coverage is even lower in some pockets. The most recent Australian Immunisation Register (AIR) annualised quarterly report on childhood immunisation coverage (for the March, June, September and December 2018 assessment quarters) indicates that statewide immunisation coverage in South Australia is generally good, with coverage rates as follows:

  • 94.25% of one year olds (12 months to less than 15 months) are fully immunised
  • 91.1% of two year olds (24 months to less than 27 months) are fully immunised
  • 94.67% of five year olds (60 months to less than 63 months) are fully immunised.

Over the past few years, other states have passed legislation related to immunisation and childcare enrolment. Children are already required to be fully immunised for parents to be eligible to receive family assistance payments under the Federal No Jab, No Pay policy. The applicable Immunisations are provided free through the National Immunisation Program.

For more FAQs read our Frequently Asked Questions factsheet.

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