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Seven immunisations questions parents often ask

Taking your baby to have their first vaccinations can be a bit upsetting. Here are some answers to the questions that parents often ask.

Q. Are vaccinations safe?

Vaccinations are thoroughly tested before being introduced and are continually monitored for adverse reactions. Giving your child any medicine carries a risk of possible side effects, as the patient information enclosed with the medicine explains, though vaccinations are among the safest. The risk is much higher if your child isn’t vaccinated and comes into contact with the disease as they could become very unwell.

Q. Why is my baby being offered different vaccinations to my older child?

The schedule of vaccinations routinely offered to babies and children is regularly looked at by a national panel of experts to make sure it is as effective and safe as possible. New vaccinations are introduced or the timings of vaccinations may change sometimes, so what your baby is offered may be different to what an older child had at the same age.

Q. Is it safe to have so many vaccinations at once?

Babies’ immune systems cope very well with several vaccinations at once. If a baby had 11 vaccines all at the same time, they would actually only use 0.1% of their immune system to respond to them! Remember, your baby is exposed to lots of germs every day.

This short NHS animation explains more.

Q. Are there any children who shouldn’t be vaccinated?

If your baby has a fever on the day of the appointment, your GP or practice nurse may advise you to delay the vaccination for a few days.

If your child has had a severe allergic reaction to a previous vaccination or to one of the ingredients, then they shouldn’t have a further dose. You should also talk to your GP if you have a family history of allergies, eczema or febrile convulsions.

If your child has a serious illness or is taking medication that is affecting their immune system, there are some vaccinations they shouldn’t have. These include MMR and BCG. Again, discuss the best option with your GP.

Q. I’ve heard bad things about the MMR jab – how can I trust that it’s ok?

The MMR vaccine provides protection against three illnesses: measles, mumps and rubella (German measles). All of these conditions can have very serious complications, and can prove fatal. Lots has been written in the press about claims that the MMR jab is linked to autism or bowel disease. The research on which this is based has now been discredited, and no other studies have found a link.

If you’re still worried, watch these films in which parents explore the risks and benefits of MMR vaccination.

Q. What if the vaccine contains ingredients that aren’t in line with my religious beliefs?

Some people are worried about the ingredients (particularly pork gelatine) in some vaccinations being unsuitable for particular religious groups. You can discuss alternative vaccines with your GP. Whether or not you, as parents, decide to have your child vaccinated is entirely up to you. The important thing is that you can make informed choices. These NHS leaflets provide more detailed guidance:

Q. Can I take my baby swimming before and after they’ve had their vaccinations?

It’s completely safe to take your baby swimming at an indoor British pool at any time before and after their vaccinations, so you don’t need to worry.

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Page last reviewed: 23-01-2024

Next review due: 23-01-2027