When are Vaccinations Provided?

The NHS immunisation programme is designed to provide vaccines to people at times when such a treatment would confer the most benefit. This programme is a vital part of our National Health Service, and saves lives every year by protecting against otherwise virulent and harmful diseases like tetanus, diphtheria, and polio. Vaccines are generally provided along a schedule for children, for adults travelling to particular destinations where the risk of particular diseases is quite high, and for vulnerable elderly people. In this article we look at when these vaccines are provided.

Childhood vaccinations

The childhood immunisation timetable is followed closely because children are considered a vulnerable group in terms of their bodies’ ability to protect itself. Vaccinations are provided at two months, three months, four months, 12 months, three years and four months, 12 years, and 13-18 years of age. The vaccinations provided at these points are as follows:

  • At 2 months of age babies are given two injections. The first protects against bacteria of the strain pneumococcus which can cause a number of different pneumococcal conditions. This vaccine is referred to as the PCV or pneumococcal conjugate vaccine. The second is the DTaP/IPV/Hib injection which works against polio, Haemophilus influenza type B, pertussis, and tetanus.
  • 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 four months the DTaP/IPV/Hib injection, MenC injection, and PCV injection are all provided.
  • At 12 months (1 year of age) three injections are provided including the Hib/MenC injection (protecting against meningitis C and Haemophilus influenza type B), the MMR injection (protecting against measles, mumps, and rubella), and the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV).
  • At three years and four months of age the MMR injection and DTaP/IPV (polio, diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis infections) are provided.
  • At around 12 years of age girls are given the cervical cancer HPV vaccine – three injections are given over a period of six months, all in one go, or over 12 months.
  • Finally between the ages of 13 and 18 one injection is provided against diphtheria, tetanus, and polio.

You may have noticed that a few of these vaccinations are provided repeatedly while others are only administered once. This is because while for some conditions a single dose is enough to induce a strong immune response against the disease, others require multiple ‘booster’ injections to generate enough immunity against that condition.

Vaccinations for the elderly

People over the age of 65 can become susceptible to particular conditions because over time our natural defences can weaken. A normally relatively harmless infection can become quite severe in elderly patient, and as such steps are taken to prevent any serious illness.

Anyone over the age of 65 is entitled to a seasonal flu injection once a year and a one-off PPV (pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine). Again while a single dose of PPV is enough to confer the desired immunity against pneumococcal bacteria, regular booster flu injections are needed for over 65s.

Travel vaccination

For people travelling to parts of the world where certain infectious diseases are prevalent specific travel vaccinations are needed to prevent disease. Travel vaccinations are for a range of tropical diseases like tuberculosis, and are available from GPs before you travel.

Occupational vaccinations

Certain vaccinations are offered to healthcare workers who come into contact with infected patients carrying certain types of hepatitis and other conditions. These vaccines offer protection against this exposure and are often a requirement for budding doctors and nurses.

Other vaccinations

Some vaccinations are provided for people who are at a high risk of catching particular diseases. For example some people need a tetanus injection after a particular injury. Some people who are immunocompromised (whose natural immune system is vulnerable) because of chemotherapy or disease are also provided with protective vaccines if necessary.

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