Immunisation has caused dramatic improvements in health; diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough (pertussis), measles and polio are now rare in many countries. Vaccination resulted in smallpox being eradicated from the world. It is hoped the same will soon be true for polio. Even some of the less serious illnesses for which there are vaccines can have life-threatening complications in some people. Immunisation saves countless lives. Some immunisations are offered to all people through the childhood immunisation programme. Some are offered to at-risk groups.
A checklist of the vaccines that are routinely offered to everyone in the UK and the ages at which they should ideally be given can be found here.
If you are not sure whether you or your child have had all your routine vaccinations, ask your GP or practice nurse to find out for you. It may be possible to ‘catch up’ later in life. Catch up programmes are also offered for patients attending universities and working age adults.
Try and make sure you or your child have vaccinations delivered on time to ensure protection.
Please book your child’s first set on vaccines after their 6 week check. These will be due at 8 weeks.
If you travel abroad
If you travel abroad it is recommended that you should be protected against the local infections if immunisations are available. Ideally, see your practice nurse for advice on travel at least two months prior to your departure. Our nurses are regularly updated with immunisation requirements for every country in the world.
The flu jab (seasonal influenza immunisation)
Seasonal influenza is the strain of influenza virus that arrives in the UK each autumn. The actual strain varies from year to year and a new immunisation is developed each year to protect against the prevailing strain. The aim is to protect people who are more likely to develop complications from flu. It is given each year on the NHS to people considered to be in an ‘at-risk group’, i.e those who are more likely to develop complications.
Pneumococcus is a germ (bacterium) that can cause pneumonia and meningitis. Immunisation against pneumococcus with the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) is part of the routine childhood immunisation programme as above. In addition, people who are at increased risk of infection with this bacterium should be immunised.
In the UK, adults in their 70s are offered a vaccination against a condition which gives a painful skin rash called shingles. This condition can occur at any age but is more common in older people.
In the winter months, all pregnant women are advised to have the flu jab (influenza immunisation). Pregnant women are also advised to have the whooping cough (pertussis) vaccine from 16 weeks of pregnancy to protect their newborn baby from whooping cough in the first weeks until the baby is old enough to start the vaccination programme.