Childhood Vaccinations

All young children are provided with a course of vaccinations to protect them from particularly virulent conditions like measles and diphtheria. Children are particularly vulnerable to a number of diseases at a young age, and as such are provided with enough protection to avoid serious infections. In this article we look at the schedule for childhood vaccinations and which ones are provided.

What are the childhood vaccines provided at present?

Many of the vaccines provided for children at present are combined injections, which means that they confer protection against more than one type of infection. Others are provide protection against one particular injection. Some require multiple injections over time while others are one offs that achieve the desired effects after just one dose.

  • PCV (pneumococcal conjugate vaccine) protects against bacteria of the strain pneumococcus which can cause a number of different pneumococcal conditions.
  • DTaP/IPV/Hib works against polio, Haemophilus influenza type B, pertussis, and tetanus.
  • The MenC (Meningitis C or meningococcal group C vaccine) which protects against a particular strain of the meningitis.
  • MMR works against its namesakes measles, mumps, and rubella.
  • DTaP/IPV is a vaccine against polio, diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis.
  • HPV vaccine which protects against the virus responsible for many cervical cancers (Human Papillomavirus)

The childhood vaccination timetable

  • At 2 months babies are given PCV or pneumococcal conjugate vaccine and the DTaP/IPV/Hib injection.
  • At three months the DTaP/IPV/Hib injection is given as well as an injection against meningitis C, also known as the meningococcal group C vaccine or MenC.
  • At the age of four months the MenC injection, DTaP/IPV/Hib injection, and PCV injection are all provided.
  • At 12 months the Hib/MenC injection (protecting against meningitis C and Haemophilus influenza type B), the MMR injection, and the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) are given.
  • At three years and four months of age children are given the MMR injection and DTaP/IPV.
  • At around 12 years of age girls are given the HPV vaccine which protects against the virus responsible for many cervical cancers (Human Papillomavirus) cervical cancer – three injections are given over a period of six or twelve months, or simultaneously.
  • Finally between the ages of 13 and 18 one injection is provided against diphtheria, tetanus, and polio.

This timetable has proven a highly effective way of protecting children from a number of dangerous infections, and in doing so has saved lives since its inception. Not only do these vaccines protect individual children from these infections, but they also prevent widespread transmission and spread of otherwise extremely contagious diseases like mumps and measles.

Can I refuse to have my child vaccinated?

The NHS offers its services to everyone in the UK regardless of age, ethnicity, or any other consideration. The child immunisation scheme is an important cornerstone of the service the NHS provides in the UK, and virtually every child in the country will go through the timetable. That being said, if you would rather your child was not vaccinated the choice if yours. Remember however, that the evidence shows that the benefits of vaccination far outstrip any potential risks or disadvantages.

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