Vaccines: keeping us healthy

Vaccines: keeping us healthy

In 2016, the Institute ran a poll to gauge community understanding of vaccines, and to find out what factors may be contributing to vaccine hesitancy.

The results showed confidence in the benefits of vaccines, however a number of commonly raised concerns suggest more education around the scientific evidence is required.


Vaccination poll infographic


Your five most common questions answered

Does vaccination cause autism?

This misconception started with a study in the 1990s linking autism to vaccines, specifically the vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella (MMR). The paper has since been retracted from the journal in which it was published. There is broad scientific agreement that the paper was both scientifically and ethically flawed.

A substantial amount of research into this area has found no link found between vaccines and autism.


Why does it matter if one person in the community decides not to vaccinate?

People with weak immune systems, such as babies or patients undergoing chemotherapy, rely on those around them being vaccinated. When a major proportion of the community is vaccinated it creates what’s called herd immunity. This reduces the risk of vaccine-preventable diseases circulating in the community and making people with low immunity sick.

Herd immunity saves countless lives.


Isn’t our immune system enough to defeat disease?

Not everyone has a strong and healthy immune system that can defeat disease.

Vaccines work with your own immune system by mimicking a natural virus or infection. Your immune system learns to recognise that disease and how to defeat it. That knowledge protects you in the event of future contact with the disease.


Don’t vaccines make people sick?

Vaccines can cause mild reactions, such as pain or redness at the injection site, rashes or an increased temperature. Side effects of vaccines are less frequent or less serious than the potential complications of the disease they are preventing.


Do vaccines contain mercury?

Most vaccines in Australia have had thiomersal removed; thiomersal is a preservative that contains a form of mercury.

Only the vaccines for Japanese encephalitis and Q-fever still contain thiomersal and these would only be recommended to a small number of people. The amount of mercury in these vaccines is less than you would get from eating a can of tuna.


Want to know more?

The poll told us that nearly one in five people want more information about vaccinations. These resources provide further details about vaccine safety, scientific research, and responses to other frequently raised questions:



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