Public Health Immunisation and
NHS Kent and Medway
23rd November 2011
One of the most important decisions that parents have to
make is whether or not to have their children immunised. For
some parents this can be a difficult decision.
Immunisation not only provides protection against infections
for individual children, but, if enough people are immunised,
the disease is controlled or even wiped out. This is called
“herd immunity” and means that the community is protected
too. Herd immunity is very important particularly as some
people cannot immunised. They may be too young, have
health problems or be pregnant which may mean they
should not receive vaccines.
Bill Gates stated in the Independent a little way ago that
polio could be eradicated in the next two to four years.
If achieved, one of the most dreaded diseases of the 20th
century which crippled thousands of children in Britain and
worldwide, could become the second to be consigned to the
history books, after smallpox was eradicated in 1979.
HOW VACCINATION PROGRAMMES
The decision to introduce any vaccine will depend on how
common and how serious the disease is. Once it has been
decided that a vaccine would be valuable against a disease, a
series of questions are answered through research.
The two main ones are:
• Is the vaccine safe?
• Is the vaccine effective?
To answer these questions there is a defined research process
which begins with trying the vaccine out in a small group of healthy
adults, through to large studies on people similar in age to those
who may eventually receive it.
Once a vaccine has been introduced careful monitoring of safety
and effectiveness continues long term. This is important in picking
up rare or unanticipated side effects and to check that the vaccine
performs as well as expected.
SIDE EFFECTS OF VACCINATION
All medicines have side effects, but vaccines are among the
safest. The benefits of vaccinations far outweigh the risk of
When we are considering a vaccination for ourselves or our
children, it's natural to think about the potential side effects
of that vaccination but you have to balance the risk against
Most side effects from vaccination are mild. It's quite usual
for people to have redness or swelling in the place where
they had the injection, but this soon goes away. Younger
children or babies may be a bit irritable or unwell or have a
slight temperature. Again, this goes away within one or two
AGE OF IMMUNISATION
• Routine childhood immunisations are given at 2, 3 and 4
months, between 12-13 months, 3 years four months old
or soon after.
• HPV is given to girls aged 12 to 13 years old
• Tetanus, diphtheria and polio (school leaving booster) is
given between 13-18 years old.
• Early protection is important
• Whooping cough kills very young babies
• Peak age for haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) 6-12
• Fewer reactions when vaccines given at younger age
• Immunisation reduces the risk of cot death
VACCINES AT 3 YEARS, 4 MONTHS
OR SOON AFTER
Neither NHS Eastern & Coastal Kent nor NHS West Kent are not
achieving the target for vaccines given at 3 years 4 months or
soon after i.e.
• Diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis and polio (pre-school booster)
• Second dose of MMR (measles, mumps and rubella)
WHY IT IS NECESSARY FOR
CHILDREN TO HAVE TWO DOSES OF
After one dose of MMR, approximately 90-95% of
children are protected against measles, over 95%
against rubella, and 85-90% against mumps. After two
doses, almost 100% of people will be protected against
all three diseases. Because the diseases are so
infectious, it is necessary to have very high levels of
immunity in the population to control the diseases. It is
only possible to do this, if children receive two doses of
the vaccine. For this reason, almost all countries,
recommend two doses of the vaccine. Those countries
that have a high uptake of two doses of MMR vaccine
have been most successful at eliminating the diseases.
FORGOTTEN OR DELAYED
If your child’s immunisation schedule has been interrupted
or delayed for any reason, it can be resumed again at any
time. You do not have to start the schedule from the
It is always recommended that you try to stick to the correct
immunisation dates as a delay can leave your child
If you miss an immunisation appointment, make sure that
you reschedule a new appointment with your GP surgery as
soon as possible.
If parents’ or carers’ need advice on vaccination, they should
contact their GP, practice nurse or health visitor.
Additional information, for parents’ and carers’ can be found on the
HOW CAN CHILDREN’S CENTRES
PROMOTE THE IMPORTANCE OF
IMMUNISATON AND VACCINATION
Immunisation promotion is part of the statutory guidance for
The contribution of nurseries, children’s centres, schools, colleges
of further education is vital in reducing the differences in the
uptake of immunisations (NICE 2009).
How can Children’s Centres work in partnership with NHS Kent
and Medway to promote the importance of immunisation and
vaccination to help parents make informed decisions about
vaccinations for their children?