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What is Immunisation (Vaccination)?

Immunisation is a simple, safe, and effective way of protecting people against harmful diseases, before they come into contact with them.

What do Immunisations do?

Your child’s immune system needs help to fight those diseases. Immunisation gives protection against some infectious diseases. Vaccines stimulate the body to produce antibodies that fight infection. Immunisation is also known as ‘vaccination’, ‘jab’ or ‘injection’.

Does my baby have to be immunised?

It is your decision on whether to have your baby immunised. Immunisations are recommended because it gives your baby protection against serious diseases, most of which can kill

When are babies immunised?

It is really important your baby has their immunisations at the correct age. The first ones are given at 8 weeks old. Further doses are given when they are 12 and 16 weeks old.

Below is a table to show when immunisations are given and what immunisations are given.

How do I know that the vaccines are safe for my baby?

All medicines, including vaccines, are thoroughly tested to make sure they are safe and effective and not harm you or your baby. Vaccines are continuously monitored. All medicines can cause side effects, but vaccines are among the very safest. Immunisations are the safest way to protect your baby’s health.

How will I know when my baby’s immunisations are due?

By getting your baby registered at the GP shortly after birth. The surgery will send you an appointment. All childhood immunisations are free.

What happens at the appointment?

The doctor or nurse will explain what will happen and answer any questions you may have. Most vaccines are given into the thigh or upper arm. Rotavirus is given as drops in the mouth.

What if I miss the appointment?

If you miss the appointment or need to change the appointment, be sure to contact the  GP surgery to rearrange. It is never too late to have your child immunised, even if they have missed immunisations and are older than the recommended age, talk to your GP, health visitor, or practice nurse for advice.

I am worried my baby will be upset during the injection

Yes, your baby may cry for a few minutes, but a cuddle will help to make them feel better, if breastfeeding this can also help, they will soon settle down.

Will there be any side effects from the vaccine?

Some babies may:

  • Have some redness, swelling or tenderness where they had the injection. This will go on its own.
  • Feel a little irritable or unwell, or have a temperature (fever).
  • Babies having the rotavirus vaccine can get mild diarrhoea.

If my baby has allergies, can they still have vaccines?

Yes. Allergies do not prevent your baby or child from having vaccines. If you have any questions, speak to your GP, practice nurse or health visitor.

Can some babies be allergic to the vaccines?

Very rarely, some babies or children can have an allergic reaction soon after the immunisation. The nurse or GP will know how to treat this. People who give immunisations are trained to deal with any allergic reactions.

Please remember: bring your red book to each appointment.

For further information visit: NHS vaccinations and when to have them

This page was last reviewed on 22-12-2023

This page will be next reviewed on 22-12-2026