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7 frequently asked questions about vaccinations

What are vaccines and how do they work?

Your body has a natural ability to generate antibodies to fight foreign pathogens. If you have a strong immune system you may not get sick. However, if you do fall sick, your body will remember this pathogen so that if you are exposed to it again, it will be able to fend it off more effectively. Vaccines teach the body to recognize viral or bacterial pathogens that causes diseases even before the actual pathogen is encountered. Vaccines are made in many ways, including taking the form of an inactivated (dead) pathogen or weakened pathogen.

Are there side effects?

Yes, side effects can happen. However, these side effects are often temporary and mild, such as headaches, low-grade fever, or soreness at the injection site. There is a chance that some vaccines can trigger an allergic reaction such as the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine.

Why do people vaccinate?

Even though there may be side effects, you may be recommended by the doctor to do so when the risk of getting infected outweighs the risk of immunization. For example, measles causes death in 2 out of 1,000 infected individuals, but a severe allergic reaction from the vaccine develops only in 1 out of a million individuals.

Why is it important to be vaccinated?

Vaccinations are especially important for children as their immune systems are still young and require protection from a range of diseases. Vaccination is not just only for individuals, but it helps protect society. When enough people are vaccinated, the rates of transmission are reduced and will help prevent healthcare systems from being overwhelmed.

Is vaccination safe for pregnant women and people with pre-existing health conditions?

Pregnant women can receive a vaccination. Not only does it protect the mother, but it also offers protection to your baby. If you have a long term pre-existing health condition such as diabetes or a heart condition, it is harder for your body to fight off diseases naturally, hence it is very important to get the right vaccines. Your healthcare provider should be recommending vaccines that contain live viruses if you are pregnant or have a pre-existing health condition.

Why do we need a new dose of flu vaccine every year?

Unlike other pathogens, the flu viruses are particularly adept at changing their appearance. Your body may not be able to recognize and fight them effectively. Hence, every year, researchers develop vaccines based on the strains that are predicted to be circulating over the coming flu season.

What vaccinations are compulsory in Singapore

Immunisation for diphtheria and measles is compulsory by law in Singapore. Other common vaccines against tuberculosis, hepatitis B, polio, and tetanus can be received from birth or as early as 3 months old.

Find the recommended list of vaccinations based on your age and gender HERE.

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