Part of our public heath role is making sure that people are aware of, and receive, the various vaccinations available to them.
The World Health Organization estimates that up to three million lives are saved every year worldwide through immunisation.
It's important that all children and babies are fully immunised to protect them from potentially serious diseases.
Illnesses that were once common, such as diphtheria and TB, are now rare in the UK because of childhood immunisation.
However the threat of other diseases, such as measles and meningitis, has not gone away and that's why it's so important to ensure your child has been protected against them.
There are also several types of immunisation available to adults including the annual flu vaccination, Pneumococcal vaccine and the Shingles (herpes zoster) vaccine.
For most healthy people, flu is unpleasant but recovery is usually within a week.
However some people are at risk of developing a severe illness if they catch flu. The following people are at highest risk:
- older people
- the very young
- pregnant women
- those with underlying disease, particularly chronic respiratory or cardiac disease
- those who are immunosuppressed
For people at increased risk to complications of influenza, the annual flu vaccine is recommended. You are eligible to receive a free flu jab if you:
- are 65 years of age or over
- are pregnant
- have certain medical conditions
- are living in a long-stay residential care home or other long-stay care facility
- receive a carer's allowance, or you are the main carer for an elderly or disabled person whose welfare may be at risk if you fall ill
- are a healthcare worker with direct patient contact or a social care worker
- a pre-school child aged two, three and four years old
The best time to have a flu vaccine is in the autumn, from the beginning of October to early November.
Don't worry if you've missed it - you can have the vaccine later in winter. Ask your GP or pharmacist for more information.
Find out more about the annual flu vaccination and who should receive it on the NHS Choices (opens in a new window) website.
A Pneumococcal vaccine is also recommended to help protect people at increased risk of pneumococcal disease.
This is offered to people aged 64 and over, as well as being part of the routine childhood immunisation schedule.
Pneumococcal infections are caused by the bacterium Streptococcus Pneumoniae and can lead to pneumonia, septicaemia (a kind of blood poisoning) and meningitis.
Find out more about the vaccine at NHS Choices (opens in a new window).
Shingles (herpes zoster) vaccine
This is offered to certain people at the age of 70, 78 and 79. It's a vaccine to prevent shingles which is a common, painful skin disease.
People tend to get shingles more often as they get older, especially over the age of 70. And the older you are, the worse it can be. The shingles rash can be extremely painful.
Find out more about the shingles vaccination and who is eligible to receive it at NHS Choices (opens in a new window).
Young People's vaccinations
The Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is a vaccination given to young women only. Girls usually receive the jab in year eight and nine at school, aged 12 and 13.
The vaccination is designed to protect against cervical cancer by preventing HPV. This is a sexually transmitted virus that can lead to cervical cancer and other health problems. The vaccination consists of two injections.
Find out more about the HPV vaccination at NHS Choices (opens in a new window).
In year nine (14 years) young people are also offered vaccination against diphtheria, tetanus, polio and Meningitis ACWY.
Find out more about these vaccinations in the 'immunisations for young people' document attached to this page.
These are the vaccinations that are routinely offered free to all children in the UK. These are given by your GP or school immunisation team and include polio, diphtheria, rotavirus and the MMR jab.
Children who are at increased risk of certain diseases may also be offered additional vaccinations.
Parents with worries or queries about any aspect of their child's immunisations should discuss them with their GP practice, health visitor or school immunisation service.
You can see the full list of childhood immunisations and when they are given at NHS Choices (opens in a new window).
Read more about the importance of childhood vaccinations at the gov.uk website (opens in a new window).
The following documents are in Portable Document Format (PDF). You can download software to view PDF documents for free from the Adobe website (opens in a new window)
- Immunisations for young people (490KB)
- All about flu and how to stop getting it (127KB)
- Protecting your child against flu - Information for parents (316KB)
- 5 reasons to get your child vaccinated against flu (408KB)