Why your child might not get a vaccine
There are some reasons why immunisation might not be right for your child. It’s important to tell your GP or nurse about any illnesses or allergies your child has had. Before vaccination, the doctor or nurse needs to know if your child:
- has a very high temperature, vomiting or diarrhoea on the day of the appointment
- has had convulsions or fits
- had a bad reaction to a previous immunisation
- is allergic to anything
- has a bleeding disorder
- has had treatment for cancer
- has an illness that affects the immune system, for example leukaemia, HIV or AIDS
- takes medicine that affects the immune system, for example, high dose steroids or treatments given after organ transplant or for cancers
- has any other serious illness
Knowing about your child’s health helps the doctor or nurse choose the best vaccinations. A family history of illness doesn’t mean your child cannot have a vaccination.
Getting the vaccines
The Child Health system or your doctor’s surgery usually sends out your invitation to make vaccination appointments. Your child will get the vaccines as four injections in one day.
Measles, mumps and rubella (MMR)
Measles, mumps and rubella are diseases that can cause serious health problems. Without the vaccine, most children get all three diseases.
To read more about measles, mumps and rubella, go to:
The vaccine is given in one injection to protect your child against three different diseases:
Giving your child three separate vaccines could be harmful because it leaves them open to catching measles, mumps or rubella. No link has been found between the MMR vaccine and autism or bowel disease.
Side effects of the MMR vaccine
Your child may have redness and swelling in their arm where the injection was given. MMR has three vaccines in one injection. The vaccines work at different times and can cause side effects.
Side effects of the measles part of the vaccine
About a week to 10 days after MMR vaccination, when the measles part of the vaccine starts to work, some children might become feverish, lose their appetite and develop a measles-like rash. This may last about one to two days.
Side effects of the rubella part of the vaccine
About two weeks after vaccination, when the rubella part of the vaccine starts to work, your child might get a rash of small bruise-like spots. This is a rare side effect. If you see this rash, tell your doctor. The rash usually heals without treatment.
Side effects of the mumps part of the vaccine
About three weeks after vaccination, when the mumps part of the vaccine starts to work, your child might get a mild form of mumps. This is a rare side effect and will heal without treatment.
Rare reactions to the MMR vaccine
On rare occasions, 1 in 1000 children may have a fit due to a high temperature caused by the MMR vaccine.
Children that get measles disease are more likely to have a fit from a high temperature than after the MMR vaccine.
Anaphylaxis (serious allergic reactions) after MMR vaccine is extremely rare and only occurs in around one person for every 4 to 14 million doses given.
Anaphylaxis can happen within minutes of a child getting vaccinated. This reaction means your child is allergic to an ingredient in a vaccine. It’s a worrying and rare side effect that can be treated to allow a quick and full recovery.
Before your child has further vaccines, you must tell the doctor or nurse about any previous allergic reaction.
In extremely rare occasions, around one child in over 500,000, the MMR vaccine may cause encephalitis (inflammation of the brain).
This compares with one child in every 5,000 with measles disease developing encephalitis as a complication.
Getting a second dose of the MMR vaccine
Your child will get a booster dose of the MMR vaccine before they start school.
Pneumococcal vaccine (PCV)
Your child needs a booster dose of the PCV.
Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib)/Meningococcal C (MenC) vaccine
Your child needs a dose of this vaccine:
- to boost their protection against haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib)
- to protect them against meningococcal group C disease
This vaccine doesn’t protect against other bacteria or viruses that can cause meningitis or blood poisoning (septicaemia).
Side effects of the Hib/MenC vaccine
After vaccination, your child might have:
- swelling, redness or tenderness where they had the injection
- a mild fever
Very rarely, babies can have an allergic reaction to the vaccine.
Meningococcal B (MenB) vaccine
Your child gets a third dose of this vaccine to boost their protection against meningococcal group B infection, the most common type of meningococcal disease.
Side effects of the MenB vaccine
After vaccination, some children:
- have redness, swelling or tenderness where they had the injection
- are irritable
- feed poorly
- have a temperature
Treating a fever
When your child gets these vaccines, you don’t need to give them liquid paracetamol to prevent a fever developing. If their temperature is 38˚C or higher, they have a fever. You can treat them at home by:
- keeping them cool
- giving them cold drinks
- giving them liquid paracetamol
Never give your child any medicines containing aspirin.
If their temperature is 39˚C or higher, or they have a fit, contact the doctor immediately. To read more about treating a fever in children, go to:
Yellow Card Scheme
A parent or carer can use the Yellow Card Scheme to report side effects of vaccines and medicines.