Immunisation programmes are an integral part of healthcare provision in the U.K. Most immunisations are given to small babies and have been responsible for the eradication of several illnesses in this country since their introduction in the last century.
All babies born in the U.K will be invited to receive a number of routine immunisations in order to protect them from a number of different illnesses. Currently, the NHS routine immunisation programme protects against diseases such as measles, mumps, rubella, diphtheria, polio, tetanus and meningitis. Vaccinations are also given to protect against pneumococcal infections and whooping cough. Prior to immunisation programmes, these illnesses were responsible for a large number of infant deaths in Britain. Babies will usually be vaccinated between the ages of 3 months and 2 years old.
Girls aged 12 and 13 are now being invited to receive the HPV vaccination in order to protect against cervical cancer; this is a new initiative launched by the NHS; it is hoped that the immunisation will help to reduce the number of cases of cervical cancer.
Until recently, the BCG was given to most teenage children to protect against the respiratory illness, tuberculosis. However, it has recently been taken out of the routine immunisation programme as the incidence of the illness in the U.K is now so low. It is recommended that you have a BCG if you are visiting a country where TB is prevalent.
If you are travelling abroad you should take care to research possible health concerns related to the countries you are visiting and act appropriately. If you are visiting another European country or heading to North America, Australia and New Zealand, you should be safe but you should check with your GP or have a look at the NHS guidelines on the website before you go.
If you are going further afield and will be travelling to Africa, Asia, the Far East or South America you will probably need to have some additional vaccinations before you go. If you are going to Africa or South America you will need to have immunisations against hepatitis A and B, typhoid, tetanus and polio; you may also need a yellow fever and cholera injections and it is a good idea to take a course of anti-malaria tablets. If you are going to Asia or the Far East, you will generally need to have hepatitis A and B injections, as well as typhoid, tetanus and polio; you may also need to have a vaccination against Japanese encephalitis and take a course of anti-malaria tablets.