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Immunisations and non-COVID-19 illnesses

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 vaccinations helps protect them and other vulnerable groups from preventable diseases. That’s why immunisation appointments are still happening during the COVID-19 outbreak.

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

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.

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. This can give you peace of mind.

In addition, 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

No child likes getting immunisations, and no parent likes seeing their wee one get upset. So here are some tips to make your appointment go as smoothly as possible.

Tip #1: Stay calm

Chances are you’re much more nervous about the immunisation than they are! But if you’re feeling stressed, babies and children can pick up on this and become anxious too. So try to stay calm for their sake. If you’re feeling anxious, it can help to take some deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth, counting slowly to 5 as you breathe in and out.  

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Tip #2: Talk them through what will happen before their immunisation

If your child is old enough to understand, explain to them what will happen, so there are no surprises in store. Explain that it won’t take long, and that when it’s over you’ll do something nice together. You could even act out what will happen with brave teddy as the patient. 

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Tip #3: Dress them in a T-shirt or loose-sleeved top

Make sure they’re wearing a T-shirt or a top with loose sleeves that can be easily rolled up. Take their coat off in the waiting room so you’re ready and can take as little time as possible when you’re called in for the immunisation.

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Tip #4: Keep them occupied

Bring a couple of favourite books to read while you’re waiting for your appointment, and to distract them while they’re having the immunisation. Sit them on your knee with the book and give them a cuddle, holding their arm still at the same time. Help them look through the book while they’re getting their immunisation to make them less wriggly and take their mind off what’s happening.

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Tip #5: Bring some moral support

If you have more than one child, bringing along another household member can really help! They can sit in the waiting room with one child and keep them occupied with stories while the other gets their immunisation. 

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Tip #6: Do something fun afterwards

When it’s all over, do something fun together, like go to the park, watch a favourite film or build a cosy den and read stories. They’ll soon forget all about it!

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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 childhood immunisations at NHS inform

Flu vaccine

With coronavirus (COVID-19) around, it's more important than ever to get the flu vaccine. This is why all primary school children can get the vaccination at school. If your child has a health condition they're also offered the vaccine in school and no longer need to get it from your GP. 

Your child will be sent home with a letter, leaflet and consent form. It’s very important to complete the consent form and send it back to school with your child. Your child can only get the vaccine if you have sent back a completed and signed consent form.

Is your child aged 2-5? All children aged 2 to 5 years of age on 1 September 2020 (and not yet in primary school) should also get the flu vaccine. Flu immunisation begins in the autumn, look out for your letter and leaflet.

The flu vaccine will reduce the risk of your child getting or spreading flu to friends and family who are at greater risk from flu and COVID-19, such as grandparents or people with health conditions.

The more people who are vaccinated against flu, the less likely it is that there will be a spike in flu. A spike in flu would put pressure on the NHS on top of COVID-19.

You can find out more about the flu vaccine at the NHSinform.scot website.

 

The NHS is here for you

It is understandable that you might feel you don’t want to burden the NHS while it is dealing with coronavirus. But the NHS is set up to cope with other illnesses, and if you delay getting treatment you could be putting you 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 as normal, and call 999 if it is 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.