Childhood Vaccinations - Essential information

You want to do what is best for your child. You know about the importance of car seats, stair gates and other ways to keep them safe. But, did you know that one of the best ways to protect them is to make sure they have all of their vaccinations?

Whooping Cough Update

Over the past few weeks, you will have seen in the news that more people in the UK are getting whooping cough (also known as Pertussis). Make sure you and your family are up to date with whooping cough vaccinations.


The free vaccine is available for:

  • People who are pregnant, ideally between 16 – 32 weeks of pregnancy. If you have missed this, you can still get vaccinated up until you have given birth
  • Babies at 8, 12 and 16 weeks – included in the 6-in-1 vaccine.
  • Children aged over 3 years 4 months – included in the 4-in-1 vaccine booster before they start school.

Whooping cough can spread easily and can cause very serious health problems. It’s important that you have this as part of your routine vaccinations to protect yourself, your family, and your community.

Immunisations can save your child’s life

Some diseases continue to harm or kill children across the world. Don’t let your child be one of them.

Vaccinations are very safe and effective

Vaccines are only licensed for children after long and careful development and testing by researchers and doctors. Vaccines will involve some discomfort and may cause pain, redness, or tenderness at the site of injection but this is minimal compared to the pain, discomfort, and trauma of the diseases these vaccines prevent. Fever can be expected after any vaccination, but is more common with the Men B vaccineGiving paracetamol soon after Men B vaccination – and not waiting for a fever to develop – will reduce the risk of your child having a fever. Serious side effects following vaccination, such as severe allergic reaction, are very rare.

Immunisation protects others you care about

Some babies are too young to be protected by vaccination and others may not be able to receive certain vaccinations due to severe allergies, weakened immune systems from conditions like leukaemia, or other reasons. To help keep them safe, it is important that you and your children are fully immunized. This not only protects your family, but also helps prevent the spread of these diseases to your friends and loved ones.

Useful Websites

Commonly Asked Questions

Information about your baby's vaccines in different languages or easy read

The current UK vaccination schedule

Healthier Together - Flu immunisation

Frequently asked questions about vaccines

It’s normal to have questions about any medication that you’re giving to your child and vaccines are no exception. The most common questions that parents ask are:

Why should I have my child vaccinated?

Won’t herd immunity protect them? Herd immunity does not protect against all diseases. The best example of this is tetanus, which is caught from bacteria in the environment, not from other people who have the disease. In addition, for herd immunity to work properly, most people in the population need to be vaccinated. There are low vaccination rates in some parts of the UK and in some communities, as well as in many overseas countries. This means that if your child is not vaccinated, it is quite likely that many of the people they come into contact with will not be vaccinated either. So if one person gets an infectious disease, it can spread quickly through all the unvaccinated people in the group (this happened during the 2013 measles outbreak in Wales).

Won’t having several vaccines at the same time overload my baby’s immune system?

Parents often worry that a child’s immune system will not be able to cope with several vaccines at once. In fact, even a tiny baby’s immune system can cope easily. Starting from birth, babies come into contact with millions of germs every day. It is estimated that the human body contains enough white blood cells to cope with thousands of vaccines at any one time. If a child was given 11 vaccines at once, it would only use about a thousandth of the immune system. It is not a good idea to delay vaccinations to ‘spread the load’, because it leaves the child unprotected against serious diseases for longer.

How do I know that vaccines are safe?

All vaccines go through a long and thorough process of development and testing before they are licensed for use. Vaccines have to be tested on adults and children separately before they can be used for different age groups; this is because vaccines that work in adults may not work so well in children. No vaccines are tested on children before they have been fully tested on adults. Click here for more information about vaccine safety and side effects.


All children aged 12 to 13 (school year 8) are offered the HPV vaccine.

If you missed getting vaccinated when you were 12 or 13, the HPV vaccine is available for free on the NHS for:

  • all girls under 25
  • boys born after 1 September 2006

Contact your school nurse, school vaccination team or GP surgery if you or your child were eligible for the HPV vaccine but did not get vaccinated.