Schedule of when your baby is due for vaccinations in the first year plus information on the diseases against which your child will be immunised.
- At 2 months your baby will be due for DTP-Hib*, Polio and PCV**.
- At 3 months your baby will be due for DTP-Hib*, Polio and Meningitis C.
- At 4 months your baby will be due for DTP-Hib*, Polio, PCV and Meningitis C.
- At 12 to 15 months your baby will be due for Hib, Meningitis C and MMR***.
*DTP-Hib (Diptheria/Tetanus/Pertussis (whooping cough)
**PCV (Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine - Pneumococcal infection)
**Measles/Mumps/Rubella (German Measles)
Diphtheria mainly affects the throat. It is spread by droplets from the nose or mouth and, if complications set in, it can cause breathing difficulties, damage to the heart and nervous system or even death. The incubation period is from two to six days.
Babies are offered the immunisation at eight, 12 and 16 weeks of age and it is given by an injection which also contains the tetanus, whooping cough and Hib immunisations. It is given again before starting school and also between 13 and 18 years.
Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib)
The Hib organism causes flu-like symptoms such as sore throat, chest infections and ear infections. But complications such as meningitis or blockages of the throat can set in and it was for this reason that the vaccine was introduced.
Infants are offered the immunisation at eight, 12 and 16 weeks of age and it is given by injection. These injections also contain the diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough vaccines.
Measles used to be the commonest childhood fever. It is highly infectious, has an incubation period of 10 days and infection occurs by droplet spread. It may start like a bad cold with lots of catarrh and a temperature. The rash generally appears after two days. Complications are relatively common and include bronchitis, ear infections and croup. In rare cases, there can be serious complications affecting the nervous system.
Children are offered the measles vaccine at 12 to 15 months. It is given by injection, which also contains the mumps and rubella vaccines (known as the MMR). A pre-school booster immunisation is also given.
This vaccine has only recently been introduced. The meningococcus is a bacterium which causes meningitis and septicaemia (a form of blood poisoning). The bacterium has several strains and this vaccine is the first available for widespread immunisation against one of those strains, the C strain. Meningitis is a serious illness which can be fatal or cause long-term damage to the brain and nerves. It is caught through droplet spread.
The meningitis C immunisation is offered to babies at eight, 12 and 16 weeks. It is given in a separate injection to the DTPHib.
Mumps is a viral illness, which may cause considerable swelling around the cheeks and neck. The incubation period is from 14 to 21 days. Complications can include meningitis deafness, encephalitis and inflammation of the testes in boys which may permanently damage fertility.
Children are offered the mumps vaccine at 12 to15 months. It is given by injection, which also contains the measles and rubella vaccines (known as the MMR). A pre-school booster immunisation is also given.
The pneumococcal infection is an invasive bacterial infection responsible for diseases such as meningitis and pneumonia. It is spread by droplets from the respiritory system of a person carrying the infection and is most harmful to babies and young infants. Babies are offered immunisation against this infection in the form of an injection given at 8 and 16 weeks of age.
The polio virus attacks nerve tissue in the brain and spinal cord and can sometimes cause paralysis. It is still very common in some developing countries. It is spread by contact with the faeces or nose or mouth secretions of an infected person. The incubation period varies between three and 21 days.
The immunisation against polio is known as a 'live' vaccine because it contains live strains of the virus. It is treated to create an immune response without causing the actual disease. The virus may continue to be present in the faeces of an immunised person for up to six weeks after immunisation. Although the chances are very low (about one in a million), it is possible to catch polio from someone who has recently been immunised, so it's important to be careful about hand-washing after changing nappies if your baby has recently been immunised. Don't forget, too, that you should be careful when disposing of them and warn anyone else who may be changing her nappies.
The polio vaccine is offered to infants at eight, 12 and 16 weeks of age along with the DTPHib vaccination. It is given in the form of drops into the mouth.
Rubella is generally a mild illness in children causing a fever, a rash and swollen glands. It has a long incubation period of 14 to 21 days and complications for the child herself are rare. However, if a woman contracts rubella in the first eight to 10 weeks of pregnancy the effects on the unborn baby can be very serious: babies can be born with deafness, blindness, heart problems and/or brain damage. Before the rubella vaccine was introduced in 1970, there were about 70 cases a year of congenital rubella syndrome, but since 1990 there have only been 46 cases and only one case was reported between 1997 and 1999.
Children are offered the rubella vaccine at 12 to 15 months. It is given by injection, which also contains the mumps and measles vaccines (known as the MMR). A pre-school booster is also given.
The symptoms of tetanus (sometimes called lockjaw) are painful spasms of muscle contraction. The disease can be fatal. It can have a long incubation period of four to 21 days. The organism may be found in the soil and dirty wounds may be infected. It can also be caught through animal bites. Farm workers and gardeners are particularly susceptible to it.
Children are usually offered this immunisation three times: as a baby (in three doses), once before starting school and once between 13 and 18 years. When a child has had five doses it is thought that immunisation will be lifelong and no more boosters are needed. It is given as an injection, which also contains the diphtheria, whooping cough and Hib vaccines .
Whooping cough (pertussis)
This very infectious disease is transmitted by droplets from the nose or mouth. The incubation period is from seven to 10 days. It starts in the same way as a cold, but as it progresses, the spasms of coughing become more and more severe. The "whoop" occurs as the child draws breath between bouts of coughing. These distressing symptoms can go on for several weeks. Severe cases may be complicated by pneumonia, vomiting and weight loss and, more rarely, by brain damage and death. Young babies are most at risk.
Babies are offered the immunisation at eight, 12 and 16 weeks of age and it is given by injection, which also contains the diphtheria, tetanus and Hib immunisations.