‘The two public health interventions that have had the greatest impact on the world’s health are clean water and vaccines’ World Health Organisation
What is immunisation?
This is a way of protecting against serious infectious diseases. Immunisations enable our bodies to fight those diseases better if we come into contact with them.
Does my baby have to be immunised?
It is your decision whether to have your baby immunised. Vaccinations 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.
Many of these diseases are particularly serious in young babies and can kill or cause lasting damage to their health, which is why it is important to protect your baby as early as possible.
How do I know that the vaccines are safe for my baby?
All medicines, including vaccines, go through thorough testing to make sure they are safe and effective. The safety of vaccines is 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?
Get your baby registered at the GP shortly after birth and 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 and arrange another. 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.
Remember: bring your red book to each appointment.
For further information visit: NHS vaccinations and when to have them