Vaccinations

Common questions about baby vaccinations

Will I be told when my baby’s vaccinations are due?

Your doctor’s surgery or clinic will automatically send you an appointment for you to bring your baby for their vaccination.

Most surgeries and health centres run special immunisation or baby clinics. If you can’t get to the clinic, contact your surgery to make another appointment. All childhood vaccinations are free.

Read this NHS guide to the complete immunisation schedule.

Do babies need to be vaccinated before going swimming?

You can take your baby swimming at any time before and after their immunisations.

Can I refuse my baby’s vaccinations?

As a parent, you can refuse any of your child's recommended vaccinations.

You should be asked for your consent before each vaccination and, if you refuse, this will be recorded in your child’s medical notes.

Bear in mind that there's lots of evidence that vaccinations do much more good than harm, and that vaccines will protect your child for many years against a range of serious illnesses.

Read more about weighing up the benefits and risks of vaccination.

If my child misses a vaccination, can they still continue the course?

If you missed the appointment or delayed the immunisation, make a new appointment as soon as possible. You can pick up the immunisation schedule where it stopped without having to start again.

Read more about vaccination appointments.

Will my baby have side effects from vaccination?

Some babies will have side effects, but they're generally mild and short-lived. These include:

  • redness, swelling or tenderness where they had the injection (this will slowly disappear on its own)
  • a bit of irritability and feeling unwell 
  • a high temperature (fever)

If your baby develops a fever, you can treat them with paracetamol or ibuprofen. 

This NHS leaflet tells you about common side effects of vaccinations in babies and children up to five years of age.

Read more about the potential side effects of vaccinations.

Will the vaccination hurt my baby?

Your baby may cry and be upset for a few minutes, but they’ll usually settle down after a cuddle.

Read six practical vaccination tips for parents.

Can babies with an allergy have vaccinations?

Asthma, eczema, food intolerances and allergies do NOT prevent your child having any of their vaccinations. If you have any questions, speak to your doctor, practice nurse or health visitor.

Read the myths and truths about vaccinations.

Could my baby have an allergic reaction to a vaccine?

It’s very rare for babies to have an allergic reaction to a vaccination – but it can happen. The important thing to remember is that it’s completely treatable.

Signs of an allergic reaction to a vaccination are a rash or itching of part or all of the body. If this happens, the doctor or nurse giving the vaccine will know how to treat it.

In very rare cases, children can have a severe reaction within a few minutes of the injection, which causes breathing difficulties and, sometimes, they can collapse. This is called an anaphylactic reaction.

Anaphylactic reaction only happens about once in every million immunisations. Again, the people who give vaccinations are trained to deal with anaphylactic reactions on the spot and children recover completely with treatment.

Read more about the safety of vaccinations and why there is no limit on the number of vaccinations your baby or child can have.

If my baby is ill, should I postpone their vaccination?

If your baby has a minor illness without a fever, such as a cold, they can have their vaccinations as normal. If your baby is ill with a fever, put off the vaccination until they have recovered.

If your baby has either:

  • a bleeding disorder (such as haemophilia)
  • a fit not associated with fever

speak to your doctor, practice nurse or health visitor before your child has any immunisations.

Read more about why and when your baby should avoid having a vaccination.

My baby was premature - should they wait until they're older for their routine vaccinations?

Premature babies may be at higher risk of catching infections, so it’s really important that they have their vaccinations on time, i.e. from eight weeks of age, no matter how premature they were.

It may seem very early to give a vaccination to such a tiny baby, but many scientific studies have shown that it’s a good time to give them vaccines. Postponing vaccination until they're older leaves premature babies vulnerable to diseases.

Read more about when to vaccinate your baby.

Read this NHS guide to vaccinations for premature babies (PDF, 595kb).

Page last reviewed: 07/04/2016

Next review due: 07/04/2018

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