Written by:

Dr Rachel Varughese

Rachel is a paediatrician in Oxford.

Immunisations in Childhood

In this article:

  • Introduction
  • Consent
  • Routine Immunisations
  • Side effects
  • Important considerations
  • Main Points

Immunisations in Childhood


In the United Kingdom, the childhood immunisation schedule can be found at www.gov.uk by searching for the ‘Green Book’. The schedule is constantly being reviewed and updated as new scientific evidence and vaccinations are developed. Although the schedule is similar across several developed countries, there are likely to be subtle differences in countries outside the U.K.

Immunisations are an essential part of safeguarding your child’s health, through protection from potentially life-threatening illnesses. Besides being an important choice for the individual child, vaccines also protect other children from getting sick, and are an important part of public health.


Informed consent may be given by an adult with parental responsibility, or by children who are deemed Gillick competent (mature enough to make decisions that affect them). It may be verbal or written, although written is always better for future records. Immunisations should always be recorded in the Personal Child Health Record (‘red book’).

Vaccinations should be rescheduled if the child has a febrile illness (fever or high temperature), but can go ahead if there is a mild, afebrile illness

Routine Immunisations

Vaccines will be presented in the following format:
Vaccination Timings for Babies and Children

Side effects

  • Pain, redness and swelling at the site of injection: This is a common side effect and can be mitigated by analgesia for pain. It usually comes on within 24 hours of vaccination, and improves after 72 hours.
  • Fever, muscle aches, headaches: This is a common side effect and can be mitigated by analgesia for pain, and antipyretics for fever. Signs usually come on within 24 hours of vaccination, but can last up to 4 or 5 days.
  • Anaphylaxis (severe allergy): This is a rare side effect that will require immediate medical attention.
  • Intussusception: A rare side effect of the rotavirus vaccination, and the risk of severe rotavirus infection outweighs this risk. However, it is worth seeking medical attention if your child develops abdominal pain or blood in the stool.

Important considerations

It is natural to be concerned about the safety of vaccines and it may feel unnatural administering medication to a child that is perfectly healthy at the time. Below are some key considerations to help you feel more comfortable with choosing vaccination.

  • Vaccines are extensively tested in clinical trials before being included on the schedule.
  • Side effects are usually mild.
  • The risk of serious, rare, side effects are far outweighed by the risk of natural infection.
  • Although the majority of children are protected from these diseases through vaccination, not all children are vaccinated (some for medical reasons), making it all the more important that those who can be, are. Herd immunity should not be relied upon to protect your child.
  • Combination vaccinations are perfectly safe, they do not overwhelm the immune system, and they ensure that each child gets fewer inoculations.
  • With regards to the association of MMR and autism, this research has been completely disproven with several large-scale trials, and the researcher had his medical licence revoked. The British Medical Journal deemed this research ‘an elaborate fraud’.
  • Different schedules exist for immunocompromised children.

Main Points

  • Immunisations are essential to safeguard your child’s health and that of other children.
  • The UK vaccination schedule is constantly reviewed and updated as new research is carried out.
  • Informed consent must be given by an adult with parental responsibility.
  • Routine immunisations are given to children from 8 weeks up to 14 years.
  • Most common side effects are mild and can be treated at home.
  • There is no connection between the MMR vaccine and autism. The research has been totally disproven.

Important – If you or your child are unwell you should seek medical advice from a professional – contact your GP or visit an A&E department in an emergency. While My BabyManual strives to provide dependable and trusted information on pregnancy and childcare 24/7 via our website pages, we cannot provide individual answers to specific healthcare questions.