The NHS routine immunisation programme helps to protect millions of children against harmful childhood illnesses; you will receive a letter from your GP surgery when your child is due for their immunisations. Most immunisations are given during the first 2 years of the child’s life.
Childhood immunisation programme
The following immunisations are offered to all children living in the UK:
- 2 months old: diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), polio, Hib (DTaP/IPV/Hib combined injection) and PCV (pneumococcal conjugate vaccine) injection
- 3 months old: diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), polio, Hib (DTaP/IPV/Hib combined injection) and meningitis C injection
- 4 months old: diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), polio, Hib (DTaP/IPV/Hib combined injection) and PCV (pneumococcal conjugate vaccine) injection and meningitis C injection
- 12 months old: Hib and meningitis C combined booster injection
- 13 months old: MMR (measles mumps and rubella) vaccination and PCV (pneumococcal conjugate vaccine)
- Pre-school: diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), polio combined vaccination and MMR injection
Are immunisations safe?
All immunisations now carried out in the UK have been monitored carefully over the course of many years and have been found to be extremely safe by the authority which governs public healthcare, NICE.
Are there any side-effects?
It is common for children to experience mild side-effects after their immunisations but these should wear off very quickly. Common effects include emotional changes, which make babies more clingy than usual, a slightly raised temperature and changes in bowel habits. Severe side-effects are very rare; you should contact your doctor immediately if you have concerns that your baby has had an adverse reaction to an injection.
The environment your baby grows up can play a major role in their growth, development and health. Try to keep your home dry and clean; avoid smoking in the house and change clothes that may have traces of smoke on if you are going to be in close contact with your baby. Try to hoover and dust regularly as this will reduce the risk of your baby developing respiratory illnesses, such as asthma. Remove any objects that could be dangerous for your baby and cover sharp corners; as your baby starts to move around they will be prone to accidents so make sure you have stair gates and locks on kitchen cupboard doors. Put harmful substances, such as bleach and household cleaners and medications away from children. Keep an eye on your baby at all times, especially if they have just started to crawl or walk.
As your baby grows try to encourage them to try a range of different foods; give them plenty of fruit, vegetables and healthy proteins, carbohydrates and fats; this will help them to develop quickly as well as boosting their immune system and making them more resistant to illnesses. Try to avoid giving your baby foods that are high in sugar and control the amount of salt they take in; foods that are high in salt can be very harmful to small babies.