Around the world, 13 million people die from infectious disease every year. Over half these people are children under the age of five. Most of these deaths could be prevented with immunisation.
Because of immunisations, many serious diseases have almost disappeared from the UK, but they are still around in other countries and they could come back.
What is immunisation?
of Oxford - Facts about vaccines
Immunisation is a way of protecting ourselves from serious
disease. Once we have been immunised, our bodies are more able to fight those
disease we come into contact with them.
Our bodies have a natural defence system against disease. This is called the immune system. The immune system produces substances called antibodies which fight off disease and infection.
There are some diseases that can kill children or cause lasting damage to their health, and sometimes your child's immune system needs help to fight those diseases. Immunisation provides that help.
Protecting your child against a variety of serious illnesses is
simple, safe and free of charge.
Before anyone can be given a vaccine, it has to go through many
tests to check that it is safe and that it works. These checks continue even
after a vaccine has been introduced. Only vaccines that have passed all the
safety tests are used. Research around the world shows that immunisation is the
safest way to protect your child's health.
Your child may cry and be upset for a few minutes, but they will
usually settle down after a cuddle. Many children don't get upset at all. If you
don't want to be in the room when your child has the injection, tell the nurse
before hand. Some parents like to take a friend or partner to hold their child
during the injection.
All children are different. Most will not have any side effects. Some children will:
get a little redness or swelling where they had the injection. This will slowly disappear on its own; or
feel a bit irritable and unwell and develop a temperature (fever).
You may give your child a dose of Paracetamol liquid if they get a fever.
Very occasionally, children can have
allergic reactions straight after immunisation. when treated quickly, they will
recover completely. The people who give immunisations are trained to deal with
There are very few reasons why a child
should not be immunised. But you should let your health visitor, doctor or nurse
know if your child:
You should also let them know if your
child or any other close family member has an illness that affects the immune
system such as HIV or AIDS; or is taking medicine that affects the immune
Diphtheria is a disease that usually begins with a sore throat
and can quickly cause problems with breathing. it can damage the heart and
nervous system and in severe cases can kill.
Tetanus is a painful disease that affects the muscles and can
cause breathing problems. it is caused by germs that are found in soil and
manure and can get into the body through open cuts or burns. Tetanus affects the
nervous the nervous system and, if not treated can kill.
Whooping cough is a disease that can cause long bouts of
coughing and choking which make it hard to breathe. it can last for upto 10
weeks. It is not usually serious in older children, but it can be very serious
in babies under one year old.
Hib is an infection that can cause a number of major illnesses like blood poisoning, pneumonia and meningitis. All of these illnesses can kill if they are not treated quickly.
The Hib vaccine protects your child against one type of
meningitis (Hib) only. It does not protect against any other type of meningitis.
Polio is a virus that attacks the nervous system and can permanently paralyse the muscles. If it affects the chest muscles, polio can kill. The virus is passed in the stool (poo) of people with polio or people who have just been immunised against polio.
Meningitis is an inflammation of the lining of the brain. The
same germs that cause meningitis may cause septicaemia (blood poisoning). Babies
and young people aged 15 to 17 are most at risk of getting meningitis or
septicaemia from a type of bacteria called meningococcal group C. The MenC vaccine
protects against infection by meningococcal group C bacteria. The MenC vaccine
does not protect against meningitis caused by other bacteria or by viruses.
Schedule of routine childhood immunisations from September 2015
Last updated 20 June 2018