Your introduction to immunisations

Your child’s immunisations are a really important way to protect them from serious illness as they're growing up.

So what do you need to do to prepare for your little one’s immunisations?

What is an immunisation?

An immunisation is a powerful way of protecting your child against a disease.

It works by prompting your child’s immune system to produce antibodies against a particular disease, so that if they are exposed to that disease in the future, their body can more effectively fight it off.

Your child will be offered immunisations against a wide range of dangerous diseases while they are young, to make sure they are protected before they come into contact with them.

 

The latest immunisation schedule

(September 2015)

 

2 months

  • 5-in-1 (DTaP/IPV/Hib) vaccine

  • Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV)

  • Rotavirus vaccine

  • Men B vaccine

3 months

  • 5-in-1 (DTaP/IPV/Hib) vaccine - 2nd dose

  • Men C vaccine

  • Rotavirus vaccine - 2nd dose

4 months

  • 5-in-1 (DTaP/IPV/Hib) vaccine - 3rd dose

  • Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) - 2nd dose

  • Men B vaccine - 2nd dose

12 months

  • Hib/Men C booster

  • MMR vaccine (measles, mumps and rubella)

  • Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) - 3rd dose

  • Men B vaccine - 3rd dose

Two, three and four years old (and school years 1 and 2):

  • Influenza (annual)

40 months

  • 4-in-1 (DtaP/IPV) - pre-school booster

  • MMR vaccine - 2nd dose

Girls 12-13 years:

  • Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine

13 - 18 years:

  • 3-in-1  (Td/IPV) - teenage booster

  • Men ACWY vaccine

 

What to expect at your child's immunisation appointment

The nurse or doctor will check:

  • your child's general health, and what medicines they may be taking

  • which vaccines your child is going to have

  • that you know which diseases the vaccinations protect against

  • that you understand what side effects may occur and how to treat them

  • that you're happy to go ahead

It is a good idea to make past experiences known before the injection. Tell the nurse about any reactions your child has had after any previous vaccinations. Although children rarely faint after a vaccination, if your child is prone to fainting, you can ask if they can have the vaccination lying down.

The vaccine will be administered (either by injection, oral administration,
or a nasal spray).

If your baby is receiving the Meningitis B vaccine along with their other
routine immunisations at 2 or 4 months old, you should be asked if you
have a supply of liquid infant paracetamol at home. If you do not, you
may be offered a sachet and a syringe. You should then get some liquid
infant paracetamol from your local pharmacy or supermarket on your way
home. This is because post-immunisation fever is more common when the Meningitis B vaccine is given with the other routine vaccinations at 2 and 4 months.

Read more about post-immunisation fever

What to expect after the immunisation

 

What happens directly afterwards?
Just in case your baby reacts to the injection, you’ll be asked to stay in the
surgery for about 10 minutes after the immunisation. It’s normal for babies and young children to be upset for a little while after an immunisation by injection and they may be a little irritable or off-colour that evening.

What about side effects?
Usually, any side effects will occur where the injection was given, including: swelling, redness and a small hard lump.

Though it may be sore to touch, these symptoms will pass in 2-3 days and you don't have to worry about them. Fever is also quite common in young children, but is usually mild. A fever is usually defined as a temperature of over 37.5°

 

Specific advice for after the Meningitis B vaccine 

The Men B vaccine is usually given at your baby’s first and third immunisation appointments at 2 months and 4 months of age, and a booster at 12 months.

 

Fever is particularly common with Men B vaccine at 2 and 4
months:

Although fever can be expected after any vaccination, it is very common when the Men B vaccine is given with the other routine vaccines at two and four months. The fever tends to peak around six hours after vaccination and is nearly always gone completely within two days.
The fever shows your baby’s body is responding to the vaccine (but don’t
worry - not getting a fever doesn’t mean it hasn’t worked). The level of fever depends on the individual child and does not indicate how well the vaccine has worked.

How can I reduce the risk of fever?
Giving paracetamol soon after vaccination – and not waiting for a fever to
develop – will reduce the risk of your child having a fever. This will also reduce the chance of your baby being irritable or suffering discomfort (such as pain at the site of the injection).

You should be asked if you have a supply of liquid infant paracetamol at home. If you do not, you may be offered a sachet and a syringe. You should then get some liquid infant paracetamol from your local pharmacy or supermarket on your way home.

You should give the first dose as soon as possible after your two-month
vaccination visit. You should then give the second dose 4-6 hours later and the third dose 4-6 hours after that. You will need to follow the same steps after your four-month vaccinations.

Current advice states that paracetamol should be used to treat postimmunisation fever in babies after their Men B injections at 2 and 4 months; in this instance, ibuprofen is not currently recommended. Your nurse will give you more information about paracetamol at your vaccination appointment and you may be given a leafl et to take away with you with written instructions.

 

Where can I find out more?

If you have any questions about immunisations, just talk to your GP, health visitor or practice nurse.

You can find more about your child’s immunisations, and how to look out for post-immunisation fever, in our handy guide.

 
 

See also

Treatment advice

"My son has a high temperature, what should I do?"

When your child suffers from a fever, it can be a sign that his body is fighting an infection. We've put together a helpful fact sheet of things to do and what symptoms to look out for.

How to care for an infant with fever

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