Childhood Illnesses

Baby and Childhood Immunisations

Vaccinations protect you, your child and family from many serious diseases. They help protect other people who can’t have vaccinations themselves too. Some people get mild side-effects, but these usually don’t last long.

Vaccinations are safe and sometimes can get rid of a disease totally. 

  • Vaccines teach your immune system how to create antibodies that protect you from diseases.
  • It's much safer for your immune system to learn this through vaccination than by catching the diseases and treating them.
  • Once your immune system knows how to fight a disease, it can often protect you for many years.
  • Babies have their first vaccinations at 8 weeks, then they have them every four weeks until they are 16 weeks old. It’s safe to give babies and children several vaccines at a time.

How Vaccines Work

When your child has a vaccine they develop antibodies to protect against the disease. After this, if your child comes into contact with the disease, their body will recognise it and know how to fight against it with those antibodies.

Childhood Vaccination Schedule

Dive Deeper

Top Tips


  • Remember to take your child's personal child health record (PCHR) to appointments. This is usually called the "Red Book".
  • Call the practice or clinic to let them know if someone else is taking your child for vaccinations – or give the person a letter with your contact details.
  • Dress your baby in clothes that are easy to remove. Babies under 12 months have injections in the thigh.
  • Dress toddlers and older children in loose or short sleeves tops. They have their injections in the arm.
  • Try to stay calm during the vaccination. It's natural to worry but it might make your child anxious and restless.
  • Let your child know what's going to happen in simple language. For example you could say "you may feel a sharp scratch but that will go away very fast".
  • Hold your child on your knee during the injection. If you're worried about seeing injections you could ask a nurse or another member of staff to hold them for you.


  • Rush to get to your appointment. Giving yourself plenty of time can help you and your child avoid feeling stressed and anxious.
  • Be worried about speaking to the nurse or doctor, they can answer any questions you have about vaccination.

Side Effects

Your baby or child may cry for a little while after a vaccination, but they should feel better after a cuddle. Sometimes the area where the needle goes in can be sore and red for 2 to 3 days. This should go away on its own.

Some children may also develop a high temperature but this can usually be managed at home.

Read about how to manage a temperature at home

Myth Busting

Your baby can still have their vaccinations if:

  • They have a minor illness without a high temperature – such as a cold.
  • They have allergies, asthma, eczema or food intolerances.
  • They were born prematurely.

It's really important that premature babies still have their vaccinations from 8 weeks old. They may be at higher risk of catching infections if you wait.

It may seem very early to give a vaccination to such a tiny baby. But many scientific studies have shown that it's a good time to give them vaccines.

Vaccines do not

  • Cause autism – studies have found no evidence of a link between the MMR vaccine and autism.
  • Overload or weaken the immune system – it's safe to give children several vaccines at a time and this reduces the amount of injections they need.
  • Cause allergies or any other conditions – all the current evidence tells us that vaccinating is safer than not vaccinating.
  • Contain mercury (thiomersal).
  • Contain any ingredients that cause harm in such small amounts – but speak to your doctor if you have any known allergies such as eggs or gelatine.

Measles and Mumps Increase

Measles and mumps are starting to appear again in England, even though the MMR vaccine is safe and protects against both diseases.

Measles and mumps cases in England have nearly doubled in recent years. The table below shows how many cases of measles and mumps there have been in England in 2016 and 2018.

Year      Measles    Mumps

2016        541          573

2018        989         1088

Whooping Cough

Whooping Cough, also called pertussis, is a highly contagious bacterial infection of the lungs and airways and can make babies and young children in particular very ill.

Whooping Cough cases are currently rising and protecting your baby/child is very important. Vaccination is the best way to make sure your family are protected and vaccinations are available during pregnancy and when your baby/child is 8, 12 and 16 weeks and 3 years 4 months old. 

Pregnant women can help protect their babies by getting vaccinated – ideally from 16 weeks up to 32 weeks pregnant. If for any reason you miss having the vaccine, you can still have it up until you go into labour.

Find more information about Whooping Cough vaccination in pregnancy

Find out about the symptoms of Whooping Cough

Did you know?

If 95% of children receive the MMR vaccine, it's possible to get rid of measles.

However, measles, mumps and rubella can quickly spread again if fewer than 90% of people are vaccinated.


Routine Immunisation Schedule


Pneumococcal Vaccination (PVC) Schedule


Pre-School Immunisations Age 2-5 Years


Who can Help?

You can contact the Healthy Child Programme by calling Just One Number on 0300 300 0123 or texting Parentline on 07520 631590. Our opening hours are 8am-6pm Monday-Friday (excluding bank holidays) and 9am-1pm on Saturdays.

For questions or queries about school age immunisations you can contact Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust by calling 0300 555 5055 and selecting Option 2 or emailing hct.csaisnorfolk@nhs.net

If you are 11-19 you can text ChatHealth on 07480 635060 for confidential advice from one of our team.

The Lullaby Trust - Baby Check App- This app has simple checks that you can do if your baby is ill and helps you think about whether they need to see a doctor or health professional.

You can speak to other Norfolk parents and carers by clicking our online community forum below. 

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