Immunisation makes sure that our bodies are best protected against some serious diseases. It means that if we come into contact with certain diseases our bodies are better equipped to fight them off.
Immunisation is an easy and very safe way of protecting you. Immunisations are usually given as an injection (by a needle in your arm or leg).
As a result of the UK’s national immunisation programme, a number of diseases have disappeared from the UK, such as polio. However, as they are still present in other countries they could come back, so it is vital that we remain as protected as possible. Maintaining high immunisation rates means we not only protect ourselves, but also our families and communities and keep diseases at bay.
Please be aware anti-immunisation 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 please speak to the immunisation team or your GP.
An immunisation or vaccine contains a tiny part of the bacterium or virus that causes a disease, or tiny amounts of the chemicals the bacterium produces. By receiving vaccines, our immune systems are able to produce antibodies, which are substances to fight specific infections or diseases. This is so that if we later come into contact with the disease, our immune system already has the armour to recognise it and fight it off.
There are very few medical reasons why you should not have a vaccine. If you are worried, talk to your school nurse or GP. You should not have a vaccine and should seek advice if you have had a confirmed anaphylactic reaction to a previous vaccine.
You will get most of your immunisations in school with a nurse. You may get some immunisations at the doctors too if you are going on holiday and need a different type of immunisation to the ones you need in this country.
The Immunisation Team for Hillingdon has different contact details to the School Nursing Team.
The Immunisation Team’s phone lines are open from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. The Immunisation Team is based in Hillingdon at the Warren Health Centre and you can contact them by telephone on 01895 485740
Our vaccination programmes are primarily carried out in school-based settings and are delivered according to national campaigns and the schedule school vaccination programme.
We also offer local catch-up clinics for those who have been absent during school vaccination programmes or for young people educated at home or with an individual need.
Consent forms and information leaflets are sent out by your child’s school or direct to your parents or carers at the appropriate time. Please make sure that you complete and return the form to the team; the form will explain what you need to do.
We will always make the most effort to receive the completed consent form from parents or carers. However, if the consent form is not received, young people in secondary school are able to self-consent in certain circumstances (known as ‘Fraser consent’) but only after an individual assessment by the immunisation nurse. The nurse will check the child meets certain guidelines, such as being able to understand the information and have capacity in order to self-consent.
The nurse will check the consent form and make sure that your child is well and able to have the immunisations that day.
The HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) vaccine
Girls and boys aged 12 to 13 years (born after 1 September 2006) are offered the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine as part of the NHS vaccination programme.
The HPV vaccine helps protect against cancers caused by HPV, including:
- cervical cancer
- some mouth and throat (head and neck) cancers
- some cancers of the anal and genital areas
It also helps protect against genital warts.
The HPV vaccination programme involves two injections, given between six and 24 months apart. It is vital that your child has both of these for effective protection. The vaccine is not a replacement for safe sex and a healthy lifestyle. Read more about the HPV vaccine
3-in-1 teenage booster ( tetanus, diphtheria and polio)
The 3-in-1 teenage booster is free on the NHS for all young people aged 14, as part of the national immunisation programme. It's routinely given at secondary school (in school year 9) at the same time as the MenACWY vaccine.
It is given as a single injection into the upper arm. This vaccine boosts your protection against three separate diseases: tetanus, diphtheria and polio.
Tetanus is a painful disease affecting the nervous system which can lead to muscle spasms, breathing problems and can be fatal. It is caused when bacteria found in soil and manure gets into the body through open cuts or burns. Read more about tetanus on nhs.uk
Diphtheria is a serious disease that usually begins with a sore throat and can rapidly cause breathing problems. It can damage the heart and nervous system, and in severe cases, it can kill. Read more about diphtheria on nhs.uk
Polio is a virus that attacks the nervous system which can cause permanent paralysis of muscles. If it affects the chest muscles or the brain, polio can kill. Read more about polio on nhs.uk
The 3-in-1 teenage booster is a very safe vaccine, however in a small number of cases there are minor side-effects such as swelling, redness or tenderness where you had the injection. Sometimes, a small painless lump develops, but usually goes away in a few weeks.
Meningococcal (Meningitis) ACWY vaccine
Children aged 13 to 15 (school Years 9 or 10) are routinely offered the MenACWY vaccine in school alongside the 3-in-1 teenage booster.
Meningitis is inflammation of the lining of the brain. One of the most serious and common causes of meningitis is by meningococcal bacteria. As well as meningitis, meningococcal infection can lead to septicemia (blood poisoning), both of which can be very serious causing permanent disability and can be fatal.
The symptoms usually appear quite quickly and you should, or get your child, treated immediately.
Early signs of meningitis or septicemia are similar to when you get the flu – feeling hot, being sick and pain in the back or joints.
For meningitis other important signs to look out for include having a stiff neck, very bad headache, light hurting the eyes, a fever, vomiting, feeling drowsy or confused and red or purple spots that don’t fade under pressure. You can check this by pushing a drinking glass on the spot to see if it fades or not.
For septicemia the important signs are sleepiness, confused, bad pain in joints, very cold hands and feet, shivering, breathing quickly, vomiting, fever, cramps and diarrhoea, and red or purple spots that don’t fade under pressure. You can check this by pushing a drinking glass on the spot to see if it fades or not.
If you, or your child, have a combination of these symptoms, get help urgently. The quicker you receive treatment, the greater the chance of a full recovery.
Otherwise get in touch with your GP, call 999, or go to your nearest Accident and Emergency Department (A&E).
Teenagers are at higher risk of developing meningococcal disease and will be offered the vaccine which protects against four different types of Meningitis: A, C, W and Y, and usually given at the same time as the 3-in-1 teenage booster. The ‘Men ACWY’ vaccine is a single injection into the upper arm.
Seasonal Influenza (‘flu’) vaccination
The Seasonal Flu vaccine programme runs during the Autumn Term each year.
The flu vaccine for children is given as a single dose of nasal spray squirted up each nostril.
The flu vaccine is given as a single dose of nasal spray which is squirted up each nostril. Not only is it needle-free but the nasal spray is more effective for use in younger children with fewer side effects.
It’s quick and painless and having the vaccine will mean your child is less likely to become ill if they come into contact with the flu virus.
For more information on the flu vaccination, please visit nhs.uk, or open the following information leaflets:
Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine
The coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccines are safe and effective. They give you the best protection against COVID-19.
Everyone aged 5 and over can get a COVID-19 vaccine.
Nhs.uk has the most up to date information.