One of the most important things you can do to protect your child is to get them immunised against preventable diseases. Immunisations protect against serious, and sometimes life-threatening diseases such as measles and flu.
Some immunisations need to be given more than once to develop immunity and long-lasting protection from disease. Babies, for example, need the 6 in 1 vaccine at 8, 12 and 16 weeks old.
If you and your child/children have moved to the UK from another country, please ensure your child/children are vaccinated according to the UK schedule. The timings of childhood immunisations can vary between countries and your child/children may need an additional dose of certain vaccinations to bring them in line with the UK schedule and ensure they have the maximum protection. Check with your health visitor or GP.
Safe and effective immunisations work by teaching your child's body how to fight a disease, developing what is called immunity.
Some vaccines are called live vaccines and others are known as inactivated vaccines. Both are given as part of the routine childhood immunisation programme.
Live vaccines are made up of a weakened version of the bacteria or virus responsible for the disease, whereas inactivated vaccines are made from dead forms of the bacteria or virus. Neither can cause the disease.
When the vaccine is given, your child's immune system responds to the dead or weakened bacteria or virus by making antibodies, just as it would for the real disease.
The immune system then remembers the bacteria or virus and how to destroy it should your child be exposed to the disease in future.
The best way for your child to develop immunity against a disease is for their body to learn to fight it by having the vaccine, rather than from catching, suffering from and treating the disease.
We can stop the spread of disease within our communities if enough people are immunised. Through vaccines, you can help to protect people who cannot have the vaccine such as unwell babies or those with certain health conditions.
The childhood immunisation programme aims to protect babies and children early in life. It is best for your child to have their immunisations on time so that they have the best protection as they grow up.
Supporting parents with babies and young children to continue to attend for their immunisation appointments is a priority for our local services during COVID-19.
As the lockdown is gradually lifted, people will start to mix so it is really important that children are up to date with their immunisations before this happens to avoid outbreaks of preventable diseases like measles.
Parents and carers should contact their Health Visitor if they have concerns about how they will be protected from COVID-19 at the clinic, or if they have any other concerns.