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Childhood immunisations

What is immunisation and why is it needed?

Immunisation is a way of protecting ourselves from serious diseases. There are some diseases that can kill children or cause lasting damage to their health. Immunisations are given to prepare your child’s immune system (its natural defence system) to fight off those diseases when your child comes into contact with them.

When should my child be immunised?

It is important that your child has their immunisations at the right age. This will help to keep the risk of your child catching a serious disease as low as possible. The risk of side effects from some vaccines may increase if you put them off.

What immunisations do they need to have?

The NHS Website gives full details of the immunisations your child should have and when - visit here.

Where are the immunisations given and what happens at the appointment?

Baby and pre-school immunisations are given at your GP practice. The nurse will explain the immunisation process to you, and answer any questions you have. The vaccine is injected into the muscle of the thigh.

School age immunisations are given by the school nursing team at school. You can contact the school nursing team directly via their website here.

Are there any reasons why my child should not be immunised?

There are very few reasons why children cannot be immunised. The vaccines should not be given to children who have had:

  • A confirmed anaphylactic reaction (severe allergic reaction) to a previous dose of the vaccine, or
  • A confirmed anaphylactic reaction to neomycin, streptomycin, or polymyxin B (antibiotics used in vaccines).

If your child's immune system is ‘suppressed’ (because they are having treatment for a serious condition such as a transplant or cancer), then your child may not be able to have some vaccines. Your doctor or practice nurse should get advice from a specialist.

There are no other medical reasons why these vaccines should definitely not be given.

Dealing with common side effects

There may be redness, soreness or tenderness where the injection is given and a few babies may develop a mild fever. Make sure you keep your child cool by:

  • giving them plenty of fluids,
  • giving infant paracetamol liquid (e.g. Calpol or unbranded version) - check the quantity you should give on the bottle or ask your pharmacist
  • making sure they don't have too many layers of clothes or blankets on.
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