Flu Vaccines

What is immunisation? How does immunisation work?

Immunisation is the safest way to protect your child against an infectious disease. Once your child has been immunised, they will have the ability to fight off the disease should they come into contact with it again.

They will be considered immune to the disease. Immunisation takes advantage of the natural functions of your immune system that are already in place to protect you against disease. When a disease-causing agent, such as a virus or bacteria, invades your body, your immune system recognises it as harmful and will trigger a response to destroy it.

One of the ways your immune system fights off infection is by creating large proteins known as antibodies. These antibodies act as scouts, hunting down the infectious agent, and marking it for destruction by the immune system.

Each antibody is specific to the disease-causing organism that it has detected and will trigger a specific immune response. These specific antibodies will remain in the immune system after the infection has gone, meaning that if the same disease is encountered again, your immune system is ready to destroy it before you get sick and any symptoms can develop.

This process is known as immunity. Vaccination is the most common way to be immunised. Vaccines contain a harmless form of the bacteria or virus that causes the disease you are being immunised against. The bacteria or virus will be killed or greatly weakened before use in the vaccine so they can trigger an immune response without making you sick.

However, your immune system will still attack the bacteria or virus from the vaccine and will produce antibodies to fight it off. The immune system then maintains a memory of the disease, so if a vaccinated person encounters the disease itself later in life, their immune system is ready to fight it off and prevent an infection from developing. 

Vaccination planner

Download a personalised vaccination calendar, which highlights the dates your child needs to have their vaccinations by.

Website: NHS: Vaccination Schedule