how do immunisations work?

mum and her cute blue-eyed baby

Vaccines work by making us produce antibodies to fight the disease so if we do come into contact with the disease itself, our immune system will ‘recognise’ it and produce the antibodies needed to fight it. Vaccines are made by mass-producing the organism that causes the disease (a virus or bacterium), altering it to ensure it doesn’t cause the disease itself and mixing with other ingredients.

It's recommended to vaccinate babies and children against potentially deadly illnesses.

mum and her cute blue-eyed baby


baby immunisations: part one

  • 5-in-1 vaccine is given in three doses at 8, 12 and 16 weeks. It protects against diptheria, whooping cough, tetanus, polio and Hib
  • pneumococcal vaccine is also in three doses at 8 weeks, 16 weeks and 1 year
  • rotavirus vaccine is in two doses at 8 and 12 weeks


baby immunisations: part two

  • meningitis B vaccines are at 8, 16 weeks and 1 year
  • measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) is given at 1 year
  • Hib/meningitis C vaccine given at 1 year

It might sound a lot but, but the NHS states they come into contact with many more bugs in everyday life.


child immunisations

  • at 3 years and 4 months, pre-schoolers get their 4-in-1 booster for polio, tetanus, diptheria and whooping cough
  • from 2 years old through to the third year of primary they get annual flu protection as a nasal spray

All these routine vaccinations are given free of charge by the NHS.


teenage immunisations

  • girls aged 12 to 13 get the HPV vaccine as two injections 6 -12 months apart, to protect them from cervical cancer
  • there’s a 3-in-1 teen booster at 14 years for girls and boys, and the Men ACWY against those meningitis strains - if the latter's missed, it's offered again to all new university students


Optional vaccinations for at-risk groups

On top of the routine programme, babies and children deemed to be at risk are offered additional protection. These vaccines are for chickenpox, tuberculosis (TB) and Hepatitis B. At-risk children may have weakened immune systems due to medical conditions, exposure, or have been born to infected mothers.


myths about immunisation

There are a few common misconceptions about getting children vaccinated, so it's worth setting the record straight.

  • it’s fine to take them swimming before or after jabs
  • premature babies don’t need to avoid their routine vaccinations
  • babies with mild illness without fever don’t need to delay their immunisations, and their immune systems can't be overloaded

note about meningitis C

The Men C vaccine has been removed from the schedule for 12 week old babies from July 1 2016. This is because there are almost no cases of the disease occurring any more.