How does immunisation help eliminate disease?
Immunisation is one of the biggest health successes of the last century. Some diseases that are caused by viruses can't be cured with antibiotics. The only way to control them is by immunisation.
With continued immunisation programmes, such diseases may no longer be a threat.
There have already been some successful examples of immunisation bringing some diseases under control. Both smallpox and polio, which were once common in the UK, are no longer a threat.
The WHO declared smallpox wiped out in December 1979 thanks to a focused effort to immunise against the disease across the world. It declared Europe free from polio in 2002.
The development of effective vaccines has led to a huge decrease in childhood deaths.
The World Health Organization (WHO) states: 'The 2 public health interventions that have had the greatest impact on the world's health are clean water and vaccines.'
Benefits for you
As children develop they're exposed to many risks, one of these risks being infections. Most of these will cause mild illnesses. However, despite great medical advances, infection can still cause severe illness, disability and, at times, death.
Before vaccines were available, many children in the UK died from diseases such as whooping cough, measles and polio. Despite successful immunisation programmes, the diseases that vaccines protect against do still exist.
The benefit of immunisation is that your child has the best possible protection against dangerous diseases. This can give you peace of mind.
Benefits for us all
When your child is immunised they're helping to protect the health of the whole community.
When enough people are immunised against an infection, it's more difficult for it to be spread to those who are not immunised. This is called 'herd immunity' or 'population protection'.
This is important because children with some severe medical conditions and allergies can't have certain vaccines.