Getting your baby vaccinated

One of the best ways to protect your child against diseases like measles, rubella, tetanus and meningitis is through Vaccination. Your baby needs their first injections at eight weeks, then 12 weeks, 16 weeks and one year. 

Vaccinations are offered free of charge in the UK – just book your appointments with your GP. Remember, as well as protecting your own baby, you're also protecting other babies and children by preventing the spread of disease.

Some key questions about childhood immunisation are answered here and here by the Institute of Health Visiting.

Please be aware Anti-vaccine stories are often spread online through social media. They may not be based on scientific evidence and could put your child at risk of a serious illness. If you have any questions please speak to your health visitor or GP.

8 Weeks:

12 Weeks:

16 Weeks:

1 Year:

2 – 10 years:

3 years and 4 months:

  • MMR vaccine (measles, mumps and rubella) – 2nd dose
  • 4-in-1 pre-school booster – given as a single jab containing vaccines against diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough or pertussis, and polio.

BCG vaccination is recommended for babies up to 1 year old who:

  • are born in areas of the UK where TB rates are high
  • have a parent or grandparent who was born in a country where there's a high rate of TB
  • live with, or are close contacts of, someone with infectious TB

If the BCG vaccine is recommended for your baby, it will usually be offered at about 28 days old.

This may be offered at a hospital, a local healthcare centre or, occasionally, at your GP surgery.

BCG vaccination is given as an injection into the left upper arm.

The vaccination usually leaves a small scar.

Read the answers to common questions about the BCG TB vaccine

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 (fever)

If your child develops a high temperature:

  • make sure they're not wearing too many layers of clothes or blankets
  • give them plenty to drink
  • give them liquid paracetamol or ibuprofen for children to bring their temperature down

It's recommended that you give your baby liquid paracetamol after the MenB vaccine to reduce the risk of a high temperature. This vaccine is given at 8 weeks, 16 weeks and 1 year old.

Most of the side effects of vaccination are mild and do not last long. If you have any concerns following vaccination please contact 111 or your GP.

Allergic reactions

It's rare for anyone to have a serious allergic reaction to a vaccination. If this does happen, it usually happens within minutes.

The person who vaccinates you or your child will be trained to deal with allergic reactions and treat them immediately. With prompt treatment, you or your child will make a good recovery.

All vaccines are thoroughly tested to make sure they will not harm you or your child.

It often takes many years for a vaccine to make it through the trials and tests it needs to pass for approval.

Once a vaccine is being used in the UK it's also monitored for any rare side effects by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

Anyone can report a suspected side effect of vaccination to the MHRA through the Yellow Card Scheme.

You'll usually be contacted by your GP surgery when your child is due for a routine vaccination. This could be a letter, text, phone call or email.

If you know your child is due for a vaccination, it's best to speak to your GP surgery to book the appointment. You do not need to wait to hear from them.

It could be at your GP surgery or a local child health clinic.

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

If you have any questions about vaccination please speak to your health visitor or GP.

Vaccines are not mandatory in the UK and you should be asked for your consent before each vaccination.

However, it's important to remember that vaccines will protect your child for many years against a range of serious illnesses.

Without vaccination your child is at greater risk of getting these illnesses.

Read about why vaccination is safe and important

Can I change my mind about vaccinating my child?

Sometimes parents choose not to vaccinate, but then later decide to make sure their child is protected.

It's best for your child to have their vaccinations according to the NHS vaccination schedule, but it's never too late to check if they can still have them.

Call or visit your GP surgery to make sure your child has any vaccinations they've missed, whatever the reason.