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Myths about children's vaccines - Vaccinations

Can you overload a baby's immune system with too many vaccines?

Should your toddler have an MMR jab if they have severe eczema?

Is it true that babies should not go swimming before they have had their jabs?

There are many myths and misunderstandings about whether it's safe to have a vaccine. Here are the facts.

Vaccination facts

1. Do not have a vaccination when you're ill

It's a FACT  that you should postpone your child's jab if they're ill and have a high temperature (fever).

You may also want to postpone vaccination if your child has had a bad reaction to a previous dose of the vaccine.

This does not mean that they'll never be able to have the vaccine again, but it's a good idea to speak to your GP, practice nurse or health visitor first.

2. Do not have a vaccination if you have an allergy

It's a FACT that your child should not have a vaccine if they have had a confirmed severe allergic reaction (anaphylactic reaction) to a previous dose of the vaccine or an ingredient in it.

3. Do not have a "live" vaccine if you have a weakened immune system

Live vaccines are ones that contain the virus or bacteria they're supposed to protect against, albeit in a weakened form.

It's a FACT that your child should not have live vaccines, such as BCG (tuberculosis vaccination) or MMR, if:

  • your child isbeing treated with high-dose steroid tablets or injections – if you're not sure, check with a GP
  • your child is being treated for cancer with chemotherapy or radiotherapy, or has had these treatments within the last 6 months
  • your child has had an organ transplant and is on immunosuppressant drugs
  • your child's immune system is lowered – if you're not sure, check with a GP

Find out more about live vaccines

Vaccination myths

  1. It's a MYTH that you have to avoid or delay your child's vaccination if they have a mild illness without a fever, such as a cough or cold, or if they have an allergy, such as asthma, hay fever or eczema.

  2. It's a MYTH that you have to avoid or delay your baby's vaccinations if they were premature. 

  3. It's a MYTH that you have to avoid your baby's vaccinations if they have a history of febrile seizures or convulsions (related to fever) or epilepsy, or there's a family history of such conditions.

  4. It's a MYTH that vaccinations can overload a baby's immune system. In fact, only a tiny fraction of your baby's immune system is used by childhood vaccines, and they come into contact with many more bugs in their daily life. This video explains why vaccines do not weaken your child's immune system.

  5. It's a MYTH that homeopathy can be used as an alternative to vaccinations to protect children against potentially serious infections. In fact, there's no evidence that homeopathy can protect children against disease and illness.

  6. It's a MYTH that it's unsafe to take your baby swimming around the time of a vaccination. In fact, you can take your baby swimming at any time before and after their vaccinations.

Find out why it's a good idea to have your child vaccinated

Page last reviewed: 1 April 2019
Next review due: 1 April 2022