All parents want to protect their children from harm and one way of doing this is by making sure they’re up to date with their vaccinations. Children are prone to picking up all kinds of bugs and illnesses, especially when they reach school-age as they’re mixing with lots of different children.
Immunity can be split into innate (from birth) and adaptive (from learning). Vaccinations use adaptive immunity by giving your child’s body either a weakened dose of a virus (live vaccine) or an inactive vaccine. This allows their body to learn how to deal with the virus so if they do get attacked in the future it can react quickly.
Vaccinations are optional but the vast majority of parents choose to vaccinate their children because there can be severe consequences if they don’t and their children fall ill. Your GP should automatically send an appointment letter to you when a vaccination is due.
Here is a brief rundown of the vaccinations offered to children in the UK currently:
5-in-1 vaccine – Given at 8, 12 and 16 weeks to protect against diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, polio and Hib (Haemophilus influenza type b).
Men B vaccine – Given at 8 weeks, 16 weeks and one year to protect against group B strep meningitis.
Pneumococcal vaccine – Given at 8 weeks, 16 weeks and one year to protect against a fatal pneumococcal infection.
Rotavirus vaccine – Given at 8 and 12 weeks to protect against the rotavirus infection.
Flu vaccine – Given annually from six months old to protect against the flu.
Hib/Men C vaccine – Given at one year to protect against haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) and meningitis caused by meningococcal group C bacteria.
MMR vaccine – Given at one year and at three years and four months to protect against measles, mumps and rubella.
4-in-1 pre-school booster – Given at three years and four months to protect against diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough and polio.
HPV vaccine – Given to girls when they’re 12/13 to protect against cervical cancer.
3-in-1 teenage booster – Given at 14 to protect against tetanus, diphtheria and polio.
Men ACWY vaccine – Given at 14 and to first year university students to protect against meningitis (caused by meningococcal types A, C, W and Y).
There are also a number of additional vaccinations available. For more information on vaccinating your children, look at the NHS choices site or make an appointment with your doctor.
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