Vaccinations
NHS Choices

Why vaccinate your kids?

As a parent, you may not like seeing your baby or child being given an injection. However, vaccination is an important step in protecting your child against a range of serious and potentially fatal diseases.

Vaccinations are quick, safe and extremely effective. Once your child has been vaccinated against a disease, their body can fight it more effectively. If a child isn't vaccinated, they will have an increased risk of catching the illness.

There will always be some children who are unavoidably unprotected because:

  • they can't be vaccinated for medical reasons
  • they're too young to be vaccinated
  • they can't get to the vaccine services
  • the vaccine doesn't work (although this is rare)

However, if more parents have their children vaccinated, then more children in the community will be protected against an illness. This lowers the chance of an disease outbreak.

The only time that it's safe to stop vaccinating children against an illness is when the disease has been wiped out worldwide.

For example, when every country had eliminated smallpox in 1979, vaccination against the disease was stopped. It's hoped that polio will soon be eradicated and that measles will follow.

Can you overload a child's immune system?

You may be concerned that too many vaccines at a young age could "overload" your child's immune system, but this really isn't the case. Studies have shown that vaccines don't weaken a child's immune system.

As soon as a baby is born, they come into contact with a huge number of different bacteria and viruses every day, and their immune system copes well.

The bacteria and viruses used in vaccines are weakened or killed, and there are far fewer of them than the natural bugs that babies and children come into contact with. In fact, if a child was given 11 vaccines all at the same time, it would only use a thousandth of their immune system!


Last Updated: 01/04/2017 09:00:00