A dose of DTaP/IPV(polio)/Hib vaccine is offered at age two, three and four months (the primary course). A booster of Hib is offered at around 12 months. At age 3 years and four months to 5 years a 'pre-school booster' of DTaP/IPV(polio) (without Hib) is offered. 10 years after that a 'school leaver booster' of just Td/IPV(polio) (without Hib or pertussis) is offered. Pregnant women are also offered DTaP/IPV(polio) between 28 and 38 weeks of pregnancy.
DTaP stands for diphtheria (D), tetanus (T) and acellular pertussis (aP) (whooping cough). Polio is short for poliomyelitis. IPV stands for 'inactivated polio vaccine'. Hib stands for Haemophilus influenzae type b. The vaccines to protect against these five diseases are combined into one injection.
This is a combination vaccine which does not contain any live organisms (germs) so cannot cause any of the diseases it is protecting against.
Before 2004, polio vaccine used to be given as drops into the mouth. Polio vaccine is now always given as an injection.
If your child has not had their routine immunisations at the correct time, they can usually 'catch up'. Doses and timings of 'catch-up' can vary, depending on age and previous immunisations. Your doctor or practice nurse will advise you about this.
Since September 2012 the DTaP/IPV(polio) vaccine is now also offered to all pregnant women between 28 and 38 weeks of pregnancy. This temporary vaccination programme aims to boost the short-term immunity passed on by pregnant women to their newborn babies who normally cannot be vaccinated themselves until they are two months old. This campaign is in response to rising numbers of newborn babies getting whooping cough.
Premature babies should still have the vaccines.
If necessary, you can give a child paracetamol or ibuprofen to ease any pain and fever. Occasionally, a baby may cry or be irritable for a few hours following immunisation. If this appears to be extreme, or lasts for more than a few hours, you should seek a doctor's advice.
This is a serious infection of the throat and lungs caused by the bacterium Corynebacterium diphtheriae. The bacteria also make a poison (toxin) which can affect the heart and nervous tissue. The introduction of this immunisation in 1940 reduced this illness dramatically. In the UK, diphtheria is now extremely rare.
This is an infection caused by a bacterium called Clostridium tetani. It is a serious illness which can attack the muscles and nervous system. It can be very serious and even result in death. The bacteria which cause tetanus live in the soil. Most infections are caught from cuts, particularly dirty wounds. Even tiny cuts, such as thorn scratches, can introduce the tetanus bacteria into the body. Tetanus is not transmitted from person to person and needs a cut in the skin to get into the body. Tetanus in the UK is uncommon and occurs mainly in people over the age of 65 years who have not been previously immunised against tetanus, as the immunisation was introduced in the 1950s.
This is a highly infectious disease caused by a bacterium called Bordetella pertussis. It is passed from person to person by coughing. It causes a distressing and prolonged coughing illness which can lead to complications causing pneumonia, brain damage and even death. Before immunisation was introduced there were often over 100,000 cases per year in England and Wales. After it was introduced in the 1950s, the rate fell dramatically to about 1,000 cases a year.
Polio (poliomyelitis) is a serious illness caused by the polio virus. The virus first infects the gut, but then travels to the nervous system and can cause a meningitis-like illness. This can sometimes leave permanent damage to some nerves. This can lead to wasting of some muscles and can sometimes cause paralysis of the arms or legs. The illness can seriously affect breathing in some people and may lead to death. In 1955, before the introduction of polio immunisation, there were nearly 4,000 reported cases of polio in England and Wales. Polio is now very rare in the UK because of the success of immunisation.
Different types of the haemophilus bacterium cause infections such as ear infections and chest infections. However, Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) is a particularly nasty type. This can cause meningitis and epiglottitis (a very serious disease of the throat). It can also cause infective arthritis, infection in bones, and pneumonia. Serious illnesses caused by Hib are uncommon under the age of three months. Unless immunised, they become more common towards the first birthday. After the age of four years they become uncommon again. So, the 'at-risk' time for infections caused by Hib is from three months to four years.
Their website - www.britishpolio.org.uk - includes information about polio immunisation.