The browser you are using is too old for our website. Please visit from Chrome and you will be able to browse normally.


      Baby vaccinations and immunisations: everything you need to know

      Smiling Mother With Baby

      Baby vaccinations and immunisations: everything you need to know

      Read time: 5 minutes

      Baby vaccinations play an important part in laying the foundations for your child’s lifelong health, protecting them against serious infection and disease.

      In fact, the World Health Organisation says: ‘The two public health interventions that have had the greatest impact on the world’s health are clean water and vaccines'1.

      Vaccinations are very safe, but it is understandable that you may have concerns. In this article we’ll help you to feel prepared and answer some common questions.

      Passive and active immunity

      Your baby’s immunity starts to build during pregnancy, as your antibodies are passed through the placenta2. Breastfeeding continues this important process, but the protective effect from your antibodies is only short-lived. This ‘passive immunity’ gives your baby a fantastic start but will not protect them against serious illness over the long term3. To be protected they need to start creating their own antibodies; this is called ‘active immunity’3. Babies born prematurely or by caesarean can have a lower ‘passive immunity’, making vaccination even more critical4.


      Expert advice

      Get the support you need, the moment you need it

      Join now for free
      Vaccinations Immunity

      How do vaccines work?5

      Vaccinations help your baby to build up lifelong immunity by enabling their body to create its own antibodies against specific serious diseases or infections. Vaccines give your baby small, manageable doses of the bacteria or virus it will protect them against. This stimulates their immune system, teaching it how to fight off the illness in the future.

      "The protective effect from your antibodies is only short-lived3"

      Baby vaccination schedule

      Your baby’s immunisations are given on a schedule that starts when they are eight weeks old and continues at defined intervals throughout their childhood8. This schedule is important because it delivers the right dose for your baby’s age and ensures there are no gaps in their protection. Your doctor’s surgery or health clinic will send you your baby’s appointments automatically. These vaccinations are free through the NHS in the UK.

      Baby vaccinations

      How are vaccines given to my baby?

      Vaccines are given as single or combined dose injections and administered orally as drops, or through nasal sprays6. Injections will usually be given into your baby’s thigh and then into their upper arm once they are a year old6.

      Single-dose vaccines include meningitis B (MenB), rotavirus and pneumococcal vaccine (PCV)6. Rotavirus is given orally using a dropper7. Flu vaccines, which are delivered through a nasal spray, will be offered to your baby when they are two years old8.

      Combined vaccinations include: DTaP/IPV/Hib/HepB. This stands for diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), polio, Haemophilus influenzae type b and hepatitis B. Also known as the ‘6-in-1’ vaccine, it is given in one injection6.

      What happens on the day?

      Your healthcare professional will check that your baby is well before proceeding with the vaccinations. Be sure to let them know if your baby has a fever, diarrhoea or has been ill, as they may decide to delay for a few days. 

      You may have to remove your baby’s clothing, so dress them in clothes that are easy to take on and off9

      You will be able to cuddle your baby on your lap during the appointment but be prepared for some crying after injections. Remember, it’ll be over very quickly. They’ll soon forget all about it and you are building up their immunity to protect them.

      If you are calm and positive, your baby will feel reassured. Take a favourite toy or treat with you to distract them. Some health centres give stickers and certificates for bravery to older babies and toddlers too.

      Aptamil HCP toddler milk allergy 08

      "If you are calm and positive about vaccinations, your baby will feel reassured.7"

      What are the side effects of vaccines in babies?

      All vaccines are thoroughly tested and go through rigorous licensing checks before they are brought to the market. Serious side effects are extremely rare, and your baby is far more likely to get ill from a preventable disease than from the vaccine5.

      Some babies may experience minor temporary side effects, including:

      • A raised temperature or fever.
      • Irritability.
      • Tenderness or redness at the injection site.

      If your baby gets a fever, you can give them infant paracetamol. Make sure you follow the instructions carefully9.

      Are vaccines really necessary? No one gets these illnesses anymore.

      It’s easy to think that some diseases are so rare that your baby doesn’t need to be vaccinated against them, but this rarity is the positive result of national immunisation programmes5. It only takes one outbreak in unvaccinated babies for a disease to make a comeback5. Your grandparents may remember when some of these deadly illnesses were commonplace. But ultimately, vaccination is the parent’s choice. If you have any questions or doubts, talk to your GP or healthcare professional before your baby’s first appointment.

      Next steps

      • Look out for your appointment letter. Vaccinations usually take place in your local GP surgery or health centre and the first one is at eight weeks. Read about the immunisation schedule for their first year.
      • Talk through any worries you may have with your healthcare professional before the appointment.
      • Take your child’s red book with you, so that the immunisations can be recorded.
      • Pack a bag with toys, spare clothes and nappies in case your appointment is delayed.
      • Stay calm and positive throughout the appointment as it will reassure your baby.
      1. Bedford H. Childhood immunisation: Achievements and challenges [Online]. 2011. Available at:  [Accessed: November 2020]
      2. Fouda GG, Martinez DR, Swamy GK, Permar SR. The Impact of IgG transplacental transfer on early life immunity. Immunohorizons. 2018;2(1):14-25. doi:10.4049/immunohorizons.1700057
      3. Nunes MC, Cutland CL, Jones S, et al. Duration of Infant Protection Against Influenza Illness Conferred by Maternal Immunization: Secondary Analysis of a Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Pediatr. 2016;170(9):840-847. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2016.0921
      4. Melville JM, Moss TJ. The immune consequences of preterm birth. Front Neurosci. 2013;7:79. Published 2013 May 21. doi:10.3389/fnins.2013.00079
      5. NHS. Why vaccination is safe and important [Online]. 2020. Available at: [Accessed November 2020]
      6. NHS. A guide to immunisation for babies born on or after the 1 January 2020 [Online]. 2020. Available at: [Accessed November 2020]
      7. NHS. Rotavirus vaccine overview [Online]. 2020. Available at: [Accessed November 2020]
      8. NHS. Children's flu vaccine [Online]. 2020. Available at: [Accessed November 2020]
      9. NHS. Vaccination tips for parents [Online]. 2019. Available at: [Accessed November 2020

      Related articles

      Your baby's future health begins here

      Your baby's future health begins here

      At Aptaclub, we believe that experience helps to build resilience; that each new encounter, whether in pregnancy or after birth, can shape your baby’s future development. With our scientific expertise and one-to-one round the clock support, we can help you and your baby embrace tomorrow.

      Join Aptaclub

      Get in touch with our Careline experts

      Our midwives, nutritionists and feeding advisors are always on hand to talk about feeding your baby. Need instant assistance? Our WhatsApp Customer Support team is here to help on-the-go!

      Expert advice

      Get the support you need, the moment you need it

      Join now for free

      Your privacy is important to us and therefore we would like to explain how we use cookies on this website. With your consent, we will use cookies to measure and analyse how our website is used (analytical cookies), to tailor it to your interests (personalisation cookies), and to show you relevant advertising and information (targeting cookies) we think you will like. For more information please read the cookie statement.

      Privacy Settings

      You can choose your preferences anytime for cookies and tracking. For more information please read our cookie policy.

      • Strictly necessary

        They are necessary for the website to function and cannot be switched off. They are usually only set in response to actions made by you which amount to a request for services (setting your privacy preferences, logging in, filling in forms, etc.). You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not then work.

      • Analytical cookies

        They allow us to count visits and traffic sources, to measure and improve the performance of our site. They show us which pages are the most and least popular and how visitors move around the site. If you do not allow these cookies we will not know when you have visited our site, and will not be able to monitor its performance.

      • Personalisation cookies

        They enable website’s enhanced functionality and personalization. They may be set by us or by third parties whose services we have added to our pages. If you do not allow these cookies, some or all of these services may not function properly.

      • Targeting cookies

        They may be set through our site by our advertising partners, to build a profile of your interests and to show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.