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Vaccine Preventable Diseases 

In the UK, the childhood immunisation programme is highly successful, and this means that some diseases are rarely seen in children, such as diphtheria, polio and tetanus. Recently, there has been a significant reduction in the cases of meningitis. 

We have included information, and pictures on these diseases to remind you of the serious consequences that infection can have and reiterate the importance of parents protecting their children. 

WARNING – you may find these images distressing and we advise that they are viewed with caution 

Image showing a child with Diptheria
Image Courtesy of the CDC

Diphtheria is a serious disease that usually begins with a sore throat and can quickly develop to cause problems with breathing. It can damage the heart and nervous system and in severe cases it can kill. 

Protection against diphtheria is given at 2, 3 and 4 months, in the pre-school booster and again for school leavers. 

Further information

 

Image showing a child with Tetanus
Image Courtesy of the CDC

Tetanus is a painful disease that affects the muscles and can cause breathing problems. It’s caused when germs found in soil and manure get into the body through open cuts and burns. Tetanus affects the central nervous system and it can kill. 

Protection against tetanus is given at 2, 3 and 4 months, in the pre-school booster and again for school leavers. 

Further information

 

Image showing a child with Pertussis
Image courtesy of the CDC

Pertussis – whooping cough - is a disease that can cause long bouts of coughing and choking, making it hard to breathe. It is not usually serious in older children, but it can be very serious and can kill babies under one year old. 

Protection against Pertussis is given at 2, 3 and 4 months, and in the pre-school booster.

The vaccination is also being offered to pregnant women to protect those babies who are too young to be vaccinated. 

Further information

 

Image showing a child with Polio
Image courtesy of the CDC

Polio is a virus that attacks the nervous system and can permanently paralyse the muscles. It affects the chest muscles which can lead to the person being unable to breathe unaided. Polio can kill. 

Protection against polio is given at 2, 3 and 4 months, in the pre-school booster and again for school leavers. 

Further information

 

Image showing a child with Hib
Image Courtesy of the Children's Immunization Project, St Paul, Minnesota

Hib is an infection that can cause a number of major illnesses like blood poisoning, pneumonia and meningitis. All of these illnesses can kill if they are not treated quickly. 

Protection against Hib is given at 2, 3, and 4 months, and 12 - 13 months.

Further information

 

Pneumococcal disease is the term used to describe infections caused by the bacterium Streptococcus pneumoniae. 

Pneumococcal infection can cause diseases such as pneumonia, septicaemia (blood poisoning) and meningitis. 

Protection against Pneumococcal infection is given to babies at age 2, 4 months and 12 - 13 months. 

There is also a Pnuemococcal vaccine available for patients aged 65 years and over or those aged under 65 years who are at-risk. For details on risk groups please visit Pneumococcal vaccine risk groups 

Further information

 

Image showing a child with Meningitis C
Image © Meningitis Trust 2006, Dr Petter Brandtzæg

Meningococcal disease is caused by an infection with the bacteria Neisseria meningitidis serogroup C. 

It commonly affects the lining of the brain (meningitis) or blood (septicaemia). 

Protection against Meningitis C is given to babies at age 3 months and at 12 - 13 months. 

The vaccine is also recommended for adolescents.

Further information

 

Image showing a child with Measles
Image Courtesy of the CDC

Measles is a big killer of children worldwide, and even in countries such as the UK, if healthy children catch measles, especially when they are in their teens, they can still die. 

The MMR vaccine offers protection against measles and is given at age 12 - 13 months, a booster dose is offered at around age 3 years 4 months.

Two doses are required to get the best protection. It is never too late to get protected.

Further information
Image showing a child with Mumps
Image Courtesy of the CDC

Mumps is an acute viral illness transmitted by direct contact with saliva or droplets from the saliva of an infected person. 

Mumps was the commonest cause of viral meningitis in children prior to 1988, when vaccine was introduced. Mumps Meningitis can cause brain damage, and rarely, death. 

The MMR vaccine offers protection against mumps and is given at age 12 - 13 months, a booster dose is also offered at 3 years 4 months.

Two doses of MMR vaccine are required to get the best protection. It is never too late to get protected. 

Further information

 

Image showing a child with Rubella
Image showing a child with Rubella

Although generally a mild rash, if contracted in early pregnancy, the baby can be badly damaged, this is known as Congenital Rubella Syndrome (CRS).

The picture on the right shows a child born with cataracts as a result of CRS. Image Courtesy of The CDC 

MMR offers protection against rubella and is given at age 12 - 13 months, a booster dose is offered at age 3 years 4 months.

Two doses of MMR vaccine are required to get the best protection. It is never too late to get protected.

Further information

There are more than 100 types of HPV (human papillomavirus). Different types of HPV virus are classed as either high-risk or low-risk, depending on the conditions they can cause.

Often, infection with the HPV causes no symptoms. Some types of HPV can cause warts or verrucas. Other types are associated with cervical cancer. In 99% of cases, cervical cancer occurs as a result of a history of infection with high-risk types of HPV.

Protection against the two types of HPV responsible for more than 70% of cervical cancers in the U.K. is given to girls aged 12 years.

Further information
The rotavirus stomach bug
An oral vaccine against rotavirus infection, a common cause of diarrhoea and sickness, is given as two doses for babies aged 2 months and 3 months alongside their other routine childhood vaccinations.

The vaccine is given as a liquid from a dropper straight into the baby’s mouth for them to swallow.

Rotavirus is a highly infectious stomach bug that typically strikes babies and young children, causing an unpleasant bout of diarrhoea, sometimes with vomiting, tummy ache and fever. Most children recover at home within a few days, but nearly one in five will need to see their doctor, and one in 10 of these end up in hospital as a result of complications such as extreme dehydration. A very small number of children die from rotavirus infection each year.

For more information please visit the NHS Choices Rotavirus vaccination page.

If you require information about immunisations, the diseases they prevent or any side effects from vaccines we would recommend contacting your GP.