Young babies and children are vulnerable to infections, so they need to be protected as early as possible. Childhood vaccines are given at different ages - for different illnesses. They begin when babies are two months old. Your child needs several vaccines to protect them from infections, so it’s important to complete their immunisation programme.
The childhood immunisation schedule is designed to provide early protection against infections that are most dangerous. This is particularly important for diseases such as whooping cough, rotavirus and those due to pneumococcal, Hib and meningococcal infections.
How vaccines are given
Most vaccines are given to babies and children as an injection. Infants will receive the rotavirus vaccine by mouth. Children meeting the criteria for the flu vaccine will inhale this via the nose unless it is not safe to do so.
Getting your child immunised
Before your child starts school, they usually get their vaccinations at their doctor's surgery or local health clinic. The Child Health Clinic or doctor’s surgery usually sends you the invitation to make a vaccination appointment.
Your child can also get some vaccinations at school, which will contact the parent or carer before they give your child a vaccine for consent. If you have any questions, ask your health visitor, doctor, school nurse or a practice nurse in the doctor's surgery.
If your child has missed a vaccine, you can contact your GP surgery so they can catch up.
Booking your child’s vaccination appointment
You will usually be contacted by your GP but if you know your child is due for a vaccination, you don’t need to wait to be contacted. You can book directly with your GP.
Speak to your GP surgery if your child:
- Has missed any vaccinations.
- Has a vaccination appointment booked but you’ve missed it or are not able to attend.
- Is ill with a high temperature
- Has a bleeding disorder (such as haemophilia).
- Has a fit (seizure) without a high temperature.