Immunisations are available to all children living in the UK as part of NHS healthcare. The routine immunisation programme protects against a number of dangerous illnesses including:
- Diptheria- given at 2,3 and 4 months old and then between 3 and 5 years old
- Tetanus- given at 2,3 and 4 months old and then between 3 and 5 years old
- Pertussis (commonly known as whooping cough)- given at 2,3 and 4 months old and then between 3 and 5 years old
- Polio- given at 2,3 and 4 months old and then between 3 and 5 years old
- Meningitis C- given at 3 months, 4 months and 12 months
- Measles, mumps and rubella- given at 13 months and then between 3 and 5 years old
- Pneumoccocal infections- given at 2 months, 4 months and 13 months
- Haemophilus influenza (also known as Hib)- given at 2,3,4 and 12 months old
Many of the vaccines are combined immunisations which protect against a number of different illnesses. You will receive a letter from your GP practice when your baby is due to receive their injections.
During their teenage years girls will also now receive the vaccination against cervical cancer caused by the HPV (Human Papillomavirus); girls aged between 11 and 13 will receive the vaccination which is injected in three stages over a 6 month period. Most teenagers will also have booster injections against tetanus, polio and diphtheria. Children may need additional injections if they are travelling abroad; you will need to check this with your GP if you are planning a trip overseas.
Why are immunisations important?
Immunisations are important because they protect children against a number of potentially life-threatening illnesses. Since the introduction of the NHS routine immunisation programme, a number of these illnesses have died out in the UK and undoubtedly thousands of lives have been saved.
Are immunisations safe?
Immunisations have been trialled over the course of many years and are very safe; occasionally they may cause mild side effects which usually include:
- High temperature
- Being clingy and whingey
- Nausea and vomiting
Severe side effects are very rare but they can occur; if your child has a severe reaction, you should seek emergency medical help.
There has been a great deal of speculation in the media about the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccination, which has prompted hundreds of parents to prevent their children from having the injections; this has consequently led to a rise in the number of cases of measles amongst children in the UK. However, NICE guidelines (the organisation that controls medication and treatments in the UK) suggest that the immunisation is completely safe and there is no link between the MMR vaccination and autism, as reported in the media.