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Physical and mental health for young children
Physical and mental health for young children

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4.4 Childhood immunisations

Immunisations are offered to most children in the UK to protect against a wide range of infections, such as measles, mumps and polio. These are examples of conditions that are life-threatening or that can leave long-term side-effects, but they are preventable if children receive the full immunisation schedule. This is as a result of the National Health Service childhood immunisation programme (UK Health Security Agency, 2022).

The current government policy regarding childhood immunisations supports the view that most children should be protected from infectious diseases by receiving immunisations. Under the policy, children who should not receive routine immunisations include those who are receiving treatment for conditions that affect the immune system. This can include cancer treatment or medication which suppresses immunity to avoid rejection of a transplanted organ, such as a kidney or heart.

A photograph of a child with its parents, receiving an injection from a healthcare worker
Figure 4 Child receiving an immunisation

There are many parents who choose not to have their children immunised, either because of their health beliefs or because of their living situation. Some of the reasons why parents may not get immunisations for their children will be looked at in Session 8.