Vaccination protects health at every stage of life
This week is European Immunisation Week, an annual initiative to promote awareness of the importance of vaccination for the protection of people’s health.
Every child deserves an equal opportunity to lead a healthy life, and vaccination is one of the vital first steps to support this. Children under the age of five are particularly at risk of developing serious complications or even death from vaccine-preventable diseases. A parent’s responsibility starts at the point of pregnancy. After a women’s 20 weeks scan, she is offered the whooping cough vaccine. Getting vaccinated while pregnant is highly effective in protecting a baby from developing whooping cough in the first few weeks of their life.
Babies and children are offered the following routine vaccinations:
- 8 weeks: Diphtheria, tetanus, pertusis (whooping cough), polio, haemophilus influenza B (DTAP/IPV/ Hib), pneumococcal (PCV), meningococcus (Men B), rotavirus
- 12 weeks: Boosters for DTAP/ IPV/Hib and rotavirus to reinforce the immune system
- 16 weeks: DTAP/IPV/Hib, Men B, PCV to toughen the immune system further
- 1 year: Measles, mumps and rubella (MMR), Hib/MenC, PCV, Men B
- 3 years and 4 months: DTAP/IPV, MMR
- 2 and 7 years: Flu vaccine is offered to children, as well as other vulnerable groups, between September and January each year
- 12 to 13 years: Girls are offered the human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine to protect against cervical cancer
- 14 years: All secondary school children are offered meningococcal ACWY vaccine, as well as a booster of tetanus, diphtheria and polio (Td/IPV).
Dr Bapu Sathyajith, Clinical Lead for Immunisation at NHS Newham Clinical Commissioning Group said: “Vaccination isn’t just important for children – immunisation continues into adolescence to provide protection for the future. The protection provided by some vaccines, for example tetanus, wanes over time, so booster doses are needed to ensure life-long protection. Staying up-to-date with vaccinations protects the individual, but also family, friends and others around them, from serious and potentially fatal diseases.
“As a child continues their journey into adulthood, the baton of responsibility is passed to them. They should ensure their vaccinations are up to date and may one day need to protect their own children.
“For the over 65s, a booster of pneumococcal (PCV) is required along with the yearly seasonal influenza vaccine.
“By protecting ourselves, we also protect others. If we are successful in getting over 95% of our children vaccinated, the population gets protected by ‘herd immunity’ – a term used to describe the resistance to the spread of contagious diseases within a population.
“Your family doctor and the hospital team may offer you other vaccinations under the selective immunisation programme if your circumstances are exceptional.
“Next time you get advice from your family doctors or their team, or a letter gently reminding you to book an appointment for vaccinating your child, please understand that we have your family's best interest at heart. We are committed to providing you with the best healthcare which is evidence based.”