Having your baby vaccinated against certain illnesses and diseases is a personal choice that each parent is entitled to make, based on any research they have done. You may choose to get your baby vaccinated against certain diseases/ illnesses but not others.

Risk factors for your child and your decision to vaccinate may be based on their health and any weaknesses they already have, or even the area you live in may influence your decision, depending on how likely you think it is that they may come into contact with certain diseases.

The NHS currently offer a free vaccination programme to every child living in the UK. Below is a checklist of the vaccinations currently offered for the 2013/2014 programme. Each one is given as a single injection into the muscle of the thigh or upper arm, or by mouth in the case of some vaccinations:

Age two months:

  • 5 in 1 Dtap/IPV/Hip – This single jab is given in the thigh and contains vaccines to protect against five separate diseases: Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis (whooping cough), Polio and Haemophilus Influenza Type B (a bacterial infection that can cause severe pneumonia or meningitis in young children).
  • Pneumococcal disease – single jab given in the thigh.
  • Rotavirus – vaccine given as a liquid into the mouth.

Age three months: (given four weeks after the first vaccinations)

  • 5 in 1 second dose (details as above).
  • Meningococcal C disease – single jab in the thigh.
  • Rotavirus – liquid vaccine given into the mouth.

Age four months: (given 4 weeks after the last set of vaccinations)

  • 5 in 1 third dose (details as above) – single jab into the thigh,
  • Pneumococcal disease – 2nd dose – single jab into the thigh.

Age between 12 – 13 months – ideally within a month of the first birthday:

  • Hib/Men C – given as a single jab into the upper arm or thigh,
  • Pneumococcal disease – 3rd dose, given as single jab in the upper arm or thigh
  • MMR-Measles, mumps and Rubella(German measles) – single jab in upper arm or thigh.

Age 2-3 years old: Optional

  • Influenza-A flu nasal spray is offered to all 2 and 3 year olds. Some parents decide to have this and others do not feel it necessary.

Age 3 years 4 months old or soon after:

  • MMR booster-single jab in the upper arm,
  • 4 in 1 booster (Dtap/IPV) given as a single jab in the upper arm, containing g vaccines against Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis and Polio.

Age 12- 13 years (girls only):

  • HPV Vaccine which protects against some types of cervical cancer. Three jabs are given within a six month period.

Age 14 years:

  • Men C booster-ingle vaccine in the upper arm
  • 3 in 1 teenage booster given as a single jab in the upper arm, which contains vaccines against Diphtheria, Tetanus and Polio.

The Whooping cough vaccine is now also being offered to expectant mothers as the continuing rise in whooping cough cases in babies, too young to have started their routine vaccination, has lead to prevention being needed to stop them catching it.

Until 2005 the BCG injection (TB) was routinely given to school children when they were 15 years old, but this has been stopped now as so many areas in the UK now have such low TB rates. Instead, the health authorities are targeting high rate areas, where they now offer the vaccination to babies. If your baby is offered the BCG jab it is probably because you live in an area where the TB rate is high – often an inner city area.

Babies will be offered the BCG vaccine if their parents or grandparents have lived in an area with a high TB rate such as South Asia and some parts of Africa. However, unless there is someone living in your household who has TB, your baby is almost certainly safe because the disease is very hard to catch. If you think that there is a chance that your baby may be at risk, then speak to your health visitor about having your baby vaccinated.

Treatment / post care after vaccinations:
Some health professionals or well meaning friends or relatives will advise that you should give a dose of infant paracetamol before a vaccination or afterwards as a precaution just in case your baby has a reaction to it. I personally don’t agree with that as I feel it would mask any reaction that a baby would have and I always want to be aware of any reaction and deal with it accordingly.

Most babies may be a little fractious and grumpy around 24/48 hours after a vaccination and possibly even a little off their feeds. The vaccination site can also be sore so they may cry if you touch their leg or hold them in certain positions for a few days, that could put undue pressure on their bruised leg.

Extra cuddles and reassurance are usually enough to help them get over the vaccination. If they have a temperature over 38 degrees then you can give a small dose of infant paracetamol (always remember to check the doseage on the box first).

If you notice any other reactions that you are not happy about then always contact your GP for reassurance.

(If you are following any advice, for example post-natal exercises listed on the EssexBaby website, or anything related to health and wellbeing for you and your children (e.g. advice from other mums or bloggers about weaning or childcare) we always advise you to discuss these with your GP or health care provider first as Essex Baby Limited cannot be held responsible for any loss, damage or inconvenience caused as a result of any inaccuracy or error within its website pages.)