A number of illnesses can be prevented by
By Dr Aranzazu Rodriguez-Guerrero (MD, PhD)
A vaccine is a biological preparation used to stimulate our immune system to generate antibodies, in order to protect us against potentially serious diseases.
The current UK national immunisation schedule indicates what vaccinations your child should have and when:
2 to 6 Years
3 Years 4 Months
Girl 12 to 13 Years
14 Years and University
Thankfully, because of the national schedule, the majority of children in the UK are protected against many diseases. You will be able to confirm whether your child has received the appropriate vaccinations according to their age by checking their red book. If for any reason, you or your child has missed any vaccines, it is important they become immunised, and this can be done privately.
Many of the immunisations on the national schedule are also recommended for other age groups, and other immunisations not on the schedule are also recommended. These can be accessed in private practices.
This can be administered to children and adults to prevent chickenpox and any possible complications. It is especially recommended for healthcare workers or someone who has an illness or has a weakened immune system.
HPV (human papillomavirus)
Helps to prevent cervical cancer and genital warts. Currently only available on the national schedule for girls aged 12 to 13 years but could benefit all women.
MMR (measles, mumps, rubella)
Recommended for women planning a future pregnancy. Rubella can result in serious consequences to an unborn child.
Recommended regardless of any prior episode of shingles.
Helps prevent some pneumonia, septicaemia (infection of the bloodstream), and possibly meningitis.
There is a new Meningitis B vaccine, recommended especially for children up to the age of 5 years. There is also a meningococcal conjugate recommended for adults of all ages.
Hepatitis B and hepatitis A
These are specially recommended for healthcare workers, people with diabetes, and sexually active persons but also any person seeking protection, especially if you travel.
Helps to prevent annual flu. Currently only available on schedule for children, elderly and certain groups but annual vaccination against influenza is recommended for all persons aged 6 months or older.
Booster of Diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough)
Recommended every 10 years.
During pregnancy you can and should be vaccinated against influenza and whooping cough. Ask your GP about other vaccines. Some can be given, but you should not be vaccinated with live vaccines, such as chicken pox, shingles and MMR.
If you’re travelling abroad, find out what you may require for your trip at www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk If vaccinations are recommended, visit a GP early as some of the vaccines are required well in advance.
Are you Well Vaccinated?
Check your child’s and your own red book and ensure all those vaccines listed in the table have been administered. If any vaccines are missing, or you would like to receive any of the vaccines outside of the national schedule, discuss with a GP.
Dr Aranzazu Rodriguez-Guerrero (MD, PhD) is a Private General Practitioner at Roseneath Medical Practice in Richmond. She completed her specialization in Family and Community Medicine and regularly publishes medical articles for international medical conferences.
Published in the May/June edition of Families Upon Thames.