Vaccinations

Vaccination is a simple and effective way of protecting against harmful diseases, before coming into contact with them. It uses the body’s natural defences to build resistance to specific infections and makes the immune system stronger.

Vaccination is one of the most important things we can do to protect ourselves and our children against ill health. Vaccination prevents up to three million deaths worldwide every year.

Since vaccines were introduced in the UK, diseases like smallpox, polio and tetanus that used to kill or disable millions of people are either gone or seen very rarely. Other diseases like measles and diphtheria have been reduced by up to 99.9% since their vaccines were introduced.  However, if people stop having vaccines its possible for infectious diseases to quickly spread again.  Vaccines are critical to the prevention and control of infectious disease outbreaks.

What is a vaccination?

Vaccines train your immune system to create antibodies, just as it does when it’s exposed to a disease. However, because vaccines contain only killed or weakened forms of germs like viruses or bacteria, they do not cause the disease or put a person at risk of its complications.

COVID-19 vaccination

COVID-19 vaccines save lives and prevent people from becoming seriously ill. Research has shown these vaccines help:

  • Reduce the risk of getting seriously ill or dying from COVID-19
  • Reduce the risk of catching and spreading COVID-19
  • Protect against different strains (variants) of COVID-19

Flu vaccination

Flu vaccination is safe and effective. It is offered every year through the NHS to help protect people at risk of getting seriously ill from flu.

Flu vaccination is important because, while flu is unpleasant for most people, it can be dangerous and even life threatening for some people, particularly older people and those with certain health conditions.

Very Brief Intervention

Ask

Do you know what NHS vaccinations are recommended for you, your child or your loved one and when they should be taken?

If no, guide the person through the relevant parts of the NHS Vaccination Schedule.

Do you have any concerns or worries about taking a vaccination or getting your child vaccinated?

Don’t pressure the person.  Listen, then say back what you have heard.  Following this, provide relevant information from trusted sources on vaccination safety. 

  • General information produced by the NHS on why vaccination is safe and important can be found here
  • Easy to read information on the COVID-19 vaccine can be found in a range of different languages published by the UK Health Security Agency here.
  • The NHS have specific information regarding pregnancy, breastfeeding and fertility in relation to the COVID-19 vaccine.  This information can be found here

Barriers to vaccine uptake vary among age groups, social groups and community groups. There may be religious or cultural reasons influencing their decision, so understand and discuss the implications with them.

Would you like some information on how to book a vaccination appointment?

If yes, see details in Assist section. 

Assist

Booking a COVID-19 vaccination 

The NHS have an online service to help a person check if they are due a COVID-19 vaccination, and if so, to book an appointment. 

Appointments can also be booked over the phone free of charge by calling 119. 

If the person knows they require a COVID-19 vaccination, they can also find a walk-in COVID-19 vaccination site and get a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine without booking an appointment in advance. 

Booking a Flu vaccination

The flu vaccine is given free on the NHS to adults who:

  • are 50 and over
  • have certain health conditions
  • are pregnant
  • are in long-stay residential care
  • receive a carer's allowance, or are the main carer for an older or disabled person who may be at risk if you get sick
  • live with someone who is more likely to get a severe infection due to a weakened immune system, such as someone living with HIV, someone who has had a transplant, or is having certain treatments for cancer, lupus or rheumatoid arthritis

If a person is eligible for a free flu vaccine, they can book an appointment at their GP surgery. They can also book online to get a flu vaccine from a pharmacy that offers it on the NHS.

Booking other adult vaccinations

For other vaccinations available on the NHS, the person should get in touch with their GP surgery to book an appointment. 

Booking a child's vaccination

A parent will usually be contacted their GP surgery when their child is due for a routine vaccination. This could be a letter, text, phone call or email.  If the parent knows their child is due for a vaccination, they can speak to their GP surgery to book the appointment. They do not need to wait to hear from them. Further information can be found here

The NHS have provided some vaccination tips for parents to help a child's vaccination appointment go smoothly.

Act

Booking an appointment

For those wishing to find out whether they are eligible for a vaccination and how to book an appointment, go back to the Assist section and guide them through. 

Local information and support

Specific borough information for local vaccination and support services can be found below. 

Local Support and Contact Details