In the first 4 years of their lives, it seems that babies/children have to have a lot of vaccinations, with the majority being in their 1st year.

The reason they have to have so many vaccinations/immunizations at such a young age is because babies and children’s immune systems are not fully developed, which makes them very vulnerable to catching bugs which can cause serious diseases. The types of infections we vaccinate against are life threatening and can result in death or severe disability if an unvaccinated child was to catch them.



Our body’s natural defence against infection is called immunity. When we get an infection, our bodies produce chemicals called antibodies to fight it. After an infection we are usually immune to the bug (usually a virus or bacterium) and the immunity may last for life.

We can cause the same immunity, without getting the full-blown disease or infection, by using immunisations, also called vaccinations. Immunisations, which are usually given by injection, work by introducing a very dilute version of the disease, or an inactive part of the bug into our bodies. They don’t actually cause us to have the disease. Our bodies create antibodies in response to the immunisation, protecting us from the disease.

Children will need more than one dose of some vaccines. This is because as your child’s immune system developed we need to make sure that it maintains immunity as it develops. Sometimes, immunity can decrease as your child gets older and booster vaccines are needed to keep us protected.

It’s natural to feel concerned about your baby having his immunisations. You may not like the idea of your baby having injections, or you may be worried about the safety of vaccines.

The immunisation programme in the UK is developed by a large group of experts and doctors and only includes vaccines which are proven to be both safe and effective. All vaccines are thoroughly tested before they are given a license which means they can be used. All vaccines are continually monitored to make sure they are safe and effective in protecting your child against the diseases that could harm him.

Your child/baby is safe to have their immunizations if they have a cough, cold, runny nose, upset tummy, headache etc.

The only reason they CANNOT have their immunisations is if they have a TEMPERATURE or are on ANTIBIOTICS.

All vaccinations can cause side effects, these are usually short lived and mild. If your child has any allergies you should let your GP/ Nurse/Health visitor doing the immunizations know before they immunise.

Classic side effects are:

  • Temperature, some children/babies can develop a slight temperature after an immunisation, and is a sign that the immune system is responding to the vaccine. If this does occur, strip the child/baby off, give them cool fluids to drink regularly and keep them dosed on paracetamol as per dosage on bottle. A temperature can last a day or 2 but usually subsides quickly. If for any reason you are concerned, seek medical advice.
  • ​​​​​​​Lumps – children and babies can develop a lump up to the size of a 10pence piece at the injection site. The lump may appear hard and red and may last for several days, in some children it can last several weeks; this is nothing to be concerned about, and the lump will eventually go. If for any reason you are concerned, seek medical advice.
  • Grumpy/Tiredness – some children and babies become tired and grumpy after their immunizations, this again is perfectly normal and you should let your child/baby sleep if they want to. Their bodies are forming antibodies ready to fight infection – this is hard work for little ones! If your child becomes lifeless or you are unable to wake them, seek medical advice immediately.

When to immunise

Diseases protected against

2 months

Diptheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), polio and Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib), Pneumoccal disease, Rotavirus, Meningococcal group B(MenB)

3 months

Diptheria, tetanus pertussis (whooping cough), polio and haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib). Meningitus C (meningococcal group C, Rotavirus

4 months

Diptheria, tetanus pertussis (whooping cough), polio and haemophilus influenza type b (Hib), Meningitus C (meningococcal group C) and Pneumoccal disease, Meningococcal group B(MenB)

Between 12 – 13 months.

Within 1 month of first birthday

Haemophilus influenza type b (Hib) and Meningitus C, Pneumoccal disease, Measles, Mumps and Rubella (German Measles), Meningococcal group B(MenB)

2, 3, 4 years old.

School years 1 & 2

Influenza (from September)

3 years 4 months or soon after

Diptheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), polio, Measles, Mumps and Rubella (German Measles)

12 to 13-year old girls

HPV – Cervical cancer vaccine. Caused by human papillomavirus types 16 and 18 (and genital warts caused by types 6 and 11)

Around 14- years old

Tetanus, Polio, Diphtheria

Meningitus C and Meningococcal group W disease (MenW) and groups A and Y

Year 13 students (aged 17 to 18)

Meningitus C and Meningococcal group W disease (MenW) and groups A and Y