Vaccinations and immunisations


Remove from shortlist

Vaccination Information for Under 5s.

Vaccinations are the most effective way to protect your child from many serious and potentially fatal diseases. The World Health Organisation says that vaccinations are the most important health intervention after clean water and are responsible for saving millions of lives world wide every year.

In the UK vaccinations are free on the NHS and are usually given at your GP practice. The vaccinations offered to babies and children under 5 include those to protect against diseases such as measles, mumps, rubella, polio, diphtheria, tetanus, pneumonia, meningitis, whooping cough and more. For a full list of the recommended NHS vaccinations and when to have them please have a look at the complete routine immunisation schedule (

It’s not too late – if you have missed the scheduled time for vaccination your GP will advise you on what to do. Some vaccines, such as MMR for measles mumps and rubella, can be given at any age.

How do vaccines work?

Vaccines work by teaching your immune system to create antibodies that protect you from diseases. It's much safer for your immune system to learn this through vaccination than by catching the diseases and treating them. Once your immune system knows how to fight a disease, it can often give you life long protection.

Find out why vaccinations are important and the safest way to protect yourself and also about how do vaccines work

Things you need to know about vaccines


  • help to protect you and your child from many serious and potentially deadly diseases
  • protect other people in your family and community – by helping to stop diseases spreading to people who cannot have vaccines, such as babies too young to be vaccinated and those who are too ill to be vaccinated
  • undergo rigorous safety testing before being introduced – they’re also constantly monitored for side effects after being introduced
  • sometimes cause mild side effects that will not last long – you may feel a bit unwell and have a sore arm for 2 or 3 days
  • reduce or even get rid of some diseases – if enough people are vaccinated
  • do not overload or weaken the immune system – it's safe to give children and adults several vaccines at a time and this reduces the amount of injections needed
  • do not contain mercury (thiomersal)
  • do not contain any ingredients that cause harm – only ingredients essential to making them safer and more effective and only in very small amounts
  • do not cause autism – studies have found no evidence of a link between the MMR vaccine and autism



Seasonal vaccinations – Flu and COVID

Every autumn most children will be offered a flu vaccination. This includes children aged 2 and 3, school aged children in reception to year 11 and children with health conditions. Children with health conditions may also be offered a COVID vaccination. Find out more about the COVID-19 vaccination.

Children aged 2 and 3 and those with health conditions will be offered a vaccination at their GP practice.

School aged children will be offered a vaccination at school by the CNWL School Immunisations Team.

Most children will be offered the flu vaccination in the form of a nasal spray. This is quick, painless and effective. The nasal spray contains small traces of pork gelatine to keep it stable. Families who prefer not to have the nasal spray can choose a gelatine free injection instead. This can be requested at your GP practice for 2-3 year olds or via the School Immunisations Team  for children aged 4-16 years.

CNWL School Immunisations Team  0203 317 5076.



Page last reviewed: 09/04/2024

Skip back to top of page