Immunisation is a way of protecting against serious infectious diseases. Once we have been immunised, our bodies are better able to fight those diseases if we come into contact with them.
Vaccines contain a small amount of the bacteria or virus that causes a disease, or tiny amounts of the chemicals that the bacteria produce. Vaccines work by causing the body’s immune system to make antibodies (substances that fight off infection and disease).
If your child comes into contact with the infection, the antibodies will recognise it and be ready to protect them. Because vaccines have been used so successfully in the UK, diseases such as diphtheria have almost disappeared.
There are some diseases that can kill children or cause lasting damage to their health. Immunisations are given to prepare your child’s immune system to fight off those diseases if they come into contact with them.
Some parents feel nervous about taking their baby for their immunisations. There have been lots of scare stories in the press and community. Research proves to us that immunising children is one of the safest ways of protecting them from diseases that can threaten their life or long-term health. This is one of the most important gifts you can give your child.
Your health visitor
Your health visitor can help you find all the information you need to make an informed decision about immunisations. When the health visitor sees you when your baby is born she will bring you a booklet all about what is given, when and why.
The appointments for your baby’s immunisations are automatic. They will be administered by a practice nurse at the surgery where you and your baby are registered for Primary Health Care.
If you can not make the appointment sent to you, please contact the surgery to cancel and you will be sent another appointment.
Children of school age and immunisation
Somerset NHS Foundation Trust delivers the routine national immunisation programme to your school aged children. This includes vaccines for children who are educated at home, and others not in school.
Please contact the nursing team at Somerset SAINT on 0300 323 0032 or visit the Somerset School Aged Immunisation Nursing Team website for more information.