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Immunisations

What do I do about my child’s immunisations?

Taking your children to their routine immunisation appointments helps protect them from vaccine preventable diseases. It’s important to take your child for their vaccinations when they are invited, and not to delay getting your child immunised. Early protection is important because vaccines teach your child’s immune system how to create antibodies that protect them from diseases. It's much safer for your child’s immune system to learn this through vaccination than by catching the diseases and treating them.

You will receive a letter from NHS Scotland inviting you to take your child for their vaccination. The letter will tell you when and where the appointment is.

Why are vaccinations so important?

As children grow up, they can be exposed to infections. Most of these only cause mild illnesses. However, despite great medical advances, some infections can still cause severe illness, disability and, at times, death.

The benefit of immunisation is that your child has the best possible protection against vaccine preventable  diseases.

Once your child is immunised they're also helping to protect the health of the whole community. When enough people are immunised against an infection, it's more difficult for it to be spread to those who are not immunised. This is important because children with some severe medical conditions and allergies can't have certain immunisations.

You might hear people talk about ‘vaccines’, or ‘immunisations’, or even ‘jabs’ or ‘jags’. While there are differences between them, they lead to the same thing – a child who is protected from vaccine preventable diseases.

Top tips for taking wee ones for vaccinations

Most children don't like getting a vaccine, and no parent likes seeing their wee one get upset. It's natural to worry that your child's vaccination will hurt. They may feel some discomfort and be upset for a few minutes, but they will usually settle down after a cuddle.

Talk to the person giving the vaccination and let them know how you and your child are feeling. They are here to help and have lots of experience. There are also things you can do to help, here are some tips to make your appointment go as smoothly as possible.

Immunisations during pregnancy

If you’re pregnant you should attend your vaccination appointments as normal. NHS Scotland recommends that pregnant women should have the COVID-19, flu and whooping cough vaccines.

It’s important to get immunised to protect yourself and your baby.

Before attending an appointment make sure you are not showing any symptoms of COVID-19.

Stay updated about the immunisations offered during pregnancy at NHS inform

The NHS is here for you

It’s important that you go to your GP or hospital like you usually would if there is anything wrong. Trust your instincts. If you or your child has a health concern, contact your GP surgery or phone 111 for out of hours support, and call 999 if it's an emergency. Your NHS is here for you. Appointments may feel a little different – they might happen on the phone or even by video link. If your GP thinks you need to be seen face to face that will be arranged.

If you’re wondering how health services are different as a result of coronavirus or which service is right for you, this page on NHS Inform has more information.

During this time you might want to avoid hospitals or surgeries because you are worried about getting COVID-19. COVID wards are separate to A&E so you shouldn’t put off getting treatment.

If your child is unwell, this PDF from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health also has further guidance.

Further information

You can find out more about childhood immunisations at NHS inform