Immunisation is the safest and most effective way of helping protect your baby against some serious diseases. Your baby will be offered her first immunisations when she is two months old.
What is immunisation?
Immunisation helps to protect ourselves from serious diseases. Once we have been immunised our bodies are better able to fight diseases we come in contact with.
Vaccines and immunity
Breastfeeding will certainly boost your baby’s immune system and help protect against infections such as the common cold and tummy upsets, but it does not protect against major childhood diseases.
Some babies have temporary side-effects such as redness and swelling where they have had the injection or may feel a bit irritable and unwell and have a fever. Your health visitor or GP may suggest you give your baby a dose of infant paracetamol or ibuprofen liquid if she gets a fever.
It is not recommended that you give these medicines to your child before or after immunisation in anticipation of a fever. Remember - never give medicines that contain aspirin to children under 16 and read the instructions on the bottle carefully.
Immunisation when your baby is unwell
If your baby has a minor illness without a fever, such as a cold, she can have her immunisation as normal. However, if your baby is ill with a fever, delay the immunisation until she has recovered. This is to avoid the fever being associated with the vaccine, or the vaccine increasing the fever.
If your baby has a bleeding disorder or has had a fit not associated with fever, she can receive immunisations, but may need additional care. If this is the case, speak to your health visitor or practice nurse first.
Immunisation and premature babies
Premature babies may be at a greater risk of infection. They should be immunised according to the recommended schedule from two months after birth, regardless of how premature they were.
Your immunisation appointment
You will be sent an appointment by your GP surgery when it’s time to bring your baby in for her immunisations. The nurse or doctor will explain the process, ask about any known allergies your baby has, and answer questions you have. The vaccine is then injected into the muscle of your baby’s thigh or upper arm.
For more information about immunisation for babies up to 13 months, visit Immunisation Scotland. You can download a copy of the booklet A guide to childhood immunisations up to 5 years of age, which should also be available from your GP surgery.