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What do I do about my child’s immunisations?

It’s still very important to get your child’s immunisations as planned. Taking your children to their routine immunisation appointments helps protect them from vaccine preventable diseases. That’s why immunisation appointments are still happening during the COVID-19 outbreak.

You’ll get your child’s immunisation appointment letters as normal, and it’s very important to go to them as usual. Attending immunisation appointments is an important reason to leave your house and travel during restrictions. 

You may be putting off your child’s immunisations because you don’t want to take them into the GP surgery or clinic because you’re worried about them catching COVID-19 there. Be reassured that the NHS is taking every precaution, following strict infection control measures, to make sure this doesn’t happen, including intensive cleaning, physical distancing and use of PPE where required. Following all instructions and hygiene guidance is the best way to keep yourself, your family and staff safe at your appointment.

The only reason to postpone your child’s immunisations is if either of you, or anyone else in your household, is showing symptoms of COVID-19, or is generally unwell, or you have been advised to self-isolate because you’ve been in contact with someone with COVID-19. In this case, you should book a test and self-isolate, and call the number on your invitation to rearrange the appointment.

You can find out more about childhood immunisations at NHS Inform

Why are immunisations 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 dangerous diseases.

When your child is immunised they're 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.

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 immunisation will hurt. They may feel some discomfort and be upset for a few minutes, but they will usually settle down after a cuddle. Here are some tips to make your appointment go as smoothly as possible.

Immunisations during pregnancy

If you’re pregnant you should go to your immunisation appointments as normal. This includes your whooping cough vaccine from week 16 of pregnancy.

It’s important to attend immunisation appointments to protect yourself and your baby.

Before attending an appointment make sure you are not showing any symptoms of coronavirus.

Stay updated about immunisations at NHS inform

Flu vaccine

With coronavirus (COVID-19) still around, it's more important than ever to get the flu vaccine. This is why all children aged 2-18 are being offered the vaccine.

If your child is at primary or secondary school, they’ll be offered the flu vaccine at school. You can find out more about this on the NHS Inform website. If your child is aged 2-5 and not in school, you’ll be sent a letter with more information about arranging their appointment. You can find out more about this on the NHS Inform website.

Children aged 6 months to less than 2 years of age with an eligible health condition will also be offered the flu vaccine. Contact your NHS Board to find out more about how your child can get their vaccine. 

You can find out more about the flu vaccine and why it’s so important for your child to get it on the NHS Inform website.

The NHS is here for you

It's understandable that you might feel you don’t want to burden the NHS while it's dealing with coronavirus. But the NHS is set up to cope with other illnesses, and if you delay getting treatment you could be putting youreslf or your child at unnecessary risk.

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 and GP practices are open. Appointments may feel a little different – they might happen on the phone or even by videolink. 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. The video below also has more information about what to expect when you make an appointment.

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.