Dr Howard Stoate vaccinating a patient against flu

Immunisations and vaccinations

Sixty years ago, before routine immunisation was introduced in the UK, hundreds of thousands of children caught infectious diseases like diphtheria, tetanus, polio and measles every year. Thousands died. Nowadays, immunisation keeps these diseases at bay, but they haven’t gone away. Tetanus, for example, lives naturally in the soil and can cause infections through open wounds. So we still need immunisation to protect us. If your family haven’t had their vaccines yet, please make an appointment and get them up-to-date as soon as possible.

If your children have missed an injection, or are older than the recommended age, it’s not too late. Contact your family doctor or health visitor to make an appointment. If you aren’t registered with a Bexley doctor, visit the ‘find a GP’ service or call 0800 328 9712 for help finding your nearest doctor surgery.

Bexley childhood immunisation programme

The childhood immunisation programme starts when a child is two months old and includes protection from serious diseases such as meningitis and measles.

The current recommended timetable for childhood vaccinations is:

Two months:

  • Diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), polio and Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib, a bacterial infection that can cause severe pneumonia or meningitis in young children) given as a 5-in-1 single jab known as DTaP/IPV/Hib
  • Pneumococcal infection

Three months:

  • 5-in-1, second dose (DTaP/IPV/Hib)
  • Meningitis C

Four months:

  • 5-in-1, third dose (DTaP/IPV/Hib)
  • Pneumococcal infection, second dose
  • Meningitis C, second dose

Between 12 and 13 months:

  • Meningitis C, third dose
  • Hib, fourth dose (Hib/MenC given as a single jab)
  • MMR (measles, mumps and rubella), given as a single jab
  • Pneumococcal infection, third dose

Three years and four months, or soon after:

  • MMR second jab
  • Diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis and polio (DtaP/IPV), given as a 4-in-1 pre-school booster

Around 12-13 years:

  • Cervical cancer (HPV) vaccine, which protects against cervical cancer (girls only): three jabs given within six months

Around 13-18 years:

  • Diphtheria, tetanus and polio booster (Td/IPV), given as a single jab

Information about all aspects of immunisations for you family including a vaccination wall planner can be found on NHS website.

The uptake of the childhood vaccination programme is monitored by the ‘COVER’ Programme (Cover of Vaccination Evaluated Rapidly) based at the Health Protection Agency’s Centre for Infections. Data is reported quarterly, and can be downloaded from the Health Protection Agency website at www.hpa.org.uk.  


Influenza (flu)

Flu is a highly contagious infection that anyone can catch. Those most at risk and eligible for free vaccination during the flu season (October – January) include:

  • over 65s
  • pregnant women
  • patients with long term health conditions such as diabetes or asthma
  • care facilities where rapid spread is likely and cause high morbidity and mortality (this does not include prisons, young offender institutions or university halls of residence)
  • People in receipt of carer’s allowance or those who are the main carer of an older or disabled person whose welfare may be at risk if the carer falls ill
  • Frontline health and social care workers

Pregnant women

Pregnant women are at increased risk of complications if they contract flu. Studies have shown pregnant women are four times more likely to develop serious illness and four to five times more likely to be admitted to hospital than the general population. The flu vaccine can be given at any stage of pregnancy and should be given as soon as possible during the flu season (October – January). Please contact your GP to book an appointment.


Do I need a flu vaccine if I have had one before?

Yes. If you are in an ‘at risk’ group you should have a flu vaccine every year.  Each year the strains included vary slightly to match the strains expected to cause the most infections during the coming flu season. Even if you have had a vaccine containing one particular strain of influenza virus, you will probably not have received protection against all three strains and an additional dose will just boost any existing immunity.

To find out more, call your local GP surgery. Alternatively visit www.nhs.uk/conditions/flu.