Vaccinations Explained

What is the Immune System?

The immune system is a complex network of organs, cells and proteins that defends the body against infection, whilst protecting the body’s own cells. The immune system keeps a record of every germ (microbe) it has ever defeated so it can recognise and destroy the microbe quickly if it enters the body again, before it can multiply and make you feel sick.1

What is Vaccination?

Vaccinations are an easy, safe and effective way of protecting yourself again harmful diseases Rather than treating a disease after it occurs. They work by helping your body’s natural immune system to recognise specific diseases and build defences before you encounter them2.

How does a vaccine work?

Vaccines train your immune system to create antibodies as though it has already been exposed to the disease. However, because vaccines only contain dead or weakened forms of germs like viruses or bacteria, they do not cause the disease.

Vaccines are a safe and clever way to help your immune system to:

  • Recognise invading germs, such as the viruses or bacteria.
  • Produce antibodies to fight disease.
  • Remembers the disease and how to fight it so when you are re-exposed, your immune system can quickly destroy it before you become unwell2.

Why are Vaccines important?

With international borders open and greater population movement, a resurgence of disease has been seen.3 Vaccinations are our best defence in preparing for the season and protection against serious illnesses and associated complications.

Common viruses such as the flu can put you out of action from work (or leisure) for 2 weeks or more. Not only can viral infections be extremely unpleasant, but it can also cause serious harm to people with breathing difficulties, heart conditions, diabetes, and other medical conditions. While in some cases, vaccinations may not prevent you from developing the disease, such as the flu and covid-19, it may help to reduce the severity and/or duration of the disease and potentially prevent further complications. You will be doing your part to protect your loved ones and the community, by getting your scheduled vaccinations and preventing the spread of diseases. 4,5,6,7

How to improve your Immune Health?

How to improve your immune system with probiotics.

The best way to improve your immune system so you can feel your best and get sick less often to improve your lifestyle including diet, exercise, psychological stress, and other factors. There is still a lot we do not know about the intricacies and interconnectedness of the immune system, however general healthy-living strategies are likely to help immune function and come with other proven health benefits.8

General healthy-living strategies

There are some general healthy living strategies which have proven to improve your whole body not just your immune system. These include:

  • Not smoking
  • Eating a diet high in fruits and vegetables.
  • Exercising regularly.
  • Maintaining a healthy weight.
  • Consuming at most moderate levels of alcohol
  • Getting adequate sleep.
  • Adopting healthy habits to avoid infection, such as washing your hands frequently and cooking meats thoroughly.
  • Trying to minimize stress.
  • Keeping current with all recommended vaccines. Vaccines prime your immune system to fight off infections before they take hold in your body.8

Supplements and Immunity

Studies have shown that various micronutrient deficiencies can lead to weakened immunity. If you suspect that you may be deficient in certain nutrients, for instance, if you don’t like eating vegetables, then taking a daily multivitamin and mineral supplements can help improve your overall health as well as bolster your immune system. Nutrients which have shown to affect immunity and wellbeing include:

  • zinc,
  • selenium,
  • iron,
  • copper,
  • folic acid,
  • vitamins A, B6, C, and E.8


1. Department of Health & Human Services. Immune system. Better Health Channel. Published October 12, 1999. Accessed February 3, 2023. 2. Vaccines and immunization: What is vaccination? World Health Organization. Accessed January 16, 2023. 3. ATAGI statement on the administration of seasonal influenza vaccines in 2021. Department of health. Published 2022. Accessed January 13, 2022. 4. Influenza: are we ready?. Published 2022. Accessed January 12, 2022. 5. Vaccination Services. The Pharmacy Guild of Australia. Published 2022. Accessed January 13, 2022. 6. Merritt TD, Dalton CB, Kakar SR, Ferson MJ, Stanley P, Gilmour RE. Influenza outbreaks in aged care facilities in New South Wales in 2017: impact and lessons for surveillance. Commun Dis Intell (2018). 2021; 45:10.33321/cdi.2021.45.22. Published 2021 Apr 30. doi:10.33321/cdi.2021.45.22 . 7. Flucelvax Quad. Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). Published 2022. Accessed January 13, 2022. 8. How to boost your immune system. Harvard Health. Published February 15, 2021. Accessed January 16, 2023. 9. Should you take probiotics? Harvard Health. Published February 2, 2022. Accessed January 16, 2023. 10. Yan F, Polk DB. Probiotics and immune health. Current Opinion in Gastroenterology. 2011;27(6):496-501. doi:10.1097/mog.0b013e32834baa4d


Influenza (the flu)

The flu is a highly contagious viral infection spread by contact with fluids from coughs and sneezes and touching contaminated surfaces, so it’s easy to catch. Although flu symptoms can be mild in some people, the virus can cause very serious widespread illness, possible life- threatening complications, including pneumonia and potentially death, even in healthy people. In 2019, the flu contributed to 1,080 deaths in Australia.

 The incidence of flu was lower in 2020 and 2021, however, as we return to our regular daily routines, and move around within our communities, the risk of catching the flu has increased.

Some people are at higher risk of severe complications associated with the flu. They include:

  • Pregnant women
  • People aged over 65
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
  • Children under 5 years
  • People with chronic medical conditions.

Symptoms of the Flu

Flu symptoms appear very suddenly, and can last for up to several weeks, so the flu is not just ‘a bad cold’. The flu can also make some existing medical conditions worse. 

The most common signs of the flu are:

  • Runny nose or sneezing
  • Cough or sore throat
  • Fever and chills
  • Headache
  • Body aches
  • Vomiting and diarrhoea (more common in children).

Protection from the Flu

Yearly flu vaccination is a safe and effective way to help protect against the flu. Also, by getting a flu vaccination, you’re helping to protect those in the community that are too ill or too young to be immunised and this helps slow the spread of the disease.

It is important to get the flu vaccine every year, around April to May, as the virus strains that cause the flu change each year and the vaccine is updated each year to include the most common strains of the virus.

Who should get a flu vaccination?

The flu can affect people of all ages, so anyone over the age of 6 months is recommended to have an annual flu vaccination (provided there are no known allergies to previous flu vaccinations or components of the vaccine such as egg).

People who work with, live with or care for those in the high- risk groups should also get vaccinated each year to protect the more vulnerable members of our community.

For more information about Influenza and vaccinations, visit our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page HERE

  1. Causes of Death, Australia, 2020. Australian Bureau of Statistics.,compares%20to%201%2C080%20in%202019. Published 2022. Accessed February 17, 2022.
  2. Flu (influenza) – Better Health Channel. Better Health Channel. Published 2022. Accessed February 17, 2022.
  3. Flu (influenza). Published 2022. Accessed February 17, 2022.
  4. Flu vaccine FAQs. Published 2022. Accessed February 17, 2022.