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Your complete guide to vaccinations

Knowing which vaccinations you need and when to get them can feel like a minefield of information. Which ones are you eligible for, which are free on the NHS and how frequently do you need them? To help you out, we have put together a guide on vaccinations, giving you all the information you need when it comes to getting your jabs.

 

Flu jab

Flu jabs are typically available from September to December and are the single best form of defence against the flu. It is advised that you get your flu jab each year to ensure you are protected against new strains of the virus. Anyone is able to get a flu jab through their local pharmacy at the approximate cost of £10. Those who fall into the NHS ‘high-risk’ category are able to get theirs for free through their GP. Those considered high-risk include:

  • People over 65
  • Women who are pregnant
  • Anyone with a serious or long-term condition
  • Anyone who is living with someone with a serious condition
  • Residents of a care or nursing home
  • Parents of a child in an at-risk group over the age of 6 months
  • Those working with ill, elderly or vulnerable people

 

Shingles

Shingles is a painful skin disease which becomes more common the older you get. The shingles vaccine helps to protect against the virus and is routinely offered to patients once they reach 70. Once you reach the required age, you must get your shingles jab before your 80th birthday otherwise you are no longer eligible. This is because the jab is less effective after the age of 80. The vaccination is expected to protect you for at least five years, possibly longer, and you can have it at any time of the year. Some people are unable to receive the shingles vaccine, even if they are within the right age bracket. These people include:

  • Those with a weakened immune system (due to things such as cancer treatment, steroid tablets or organ transplants).
  • Those who have had a serious allergic reaction to any substances in the shingles vaccine.
  • Those who have had a serious allergic reaction to a previous dose of the chickenpox vaccine.
  • Those with an untreated TB infection.

 

Childhood jabs

Children require several jabs from the ages of 1 to 15 to build up their immunity to harmful viruses or infections. These vaccines can help to protect them against everything from MMR to meningitis, septicaemia, flu, certain cancers, tetanus, diphtheria and polio. Parents are typically sent appointment letters when their child is due their next vaccination. If the child is attending school, they are likely to have most of their vaccinations during school times. Here is a list of which jabs children require at what age:

1 years old:

  • Hib/Men C: to boost their protection against haemophilus influenzae & meningitis C.
  • MMR: to protect against measles, mumps and rubella.
  • PCV vaccine: to protect against pneumonia, septicaemia and meningitis.
  • MenB jab: to protect against meningitis and sepsis.

Age 2-10:

  • Flu vaccine: required every year to protect against the flu.

Age 3:

  • MMR: protecting against measles, mumps and rubella.
  • 4-in-1 preschool booster: protecting against diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough and polio.

Age 12-13:

  • HPV vaccine: protecting against cervical cancer, some mouth and throat (head and neck) cancers and some cancers of the anal and genital areas.

Age 14:

  • 3-in-1 teenage booster: protecting against tetanus, diphtheria and polio.
  • MenACWY jab: protecting against meningitis and septicaemia.

 

Pneumococcal or Pneumonia vaccine

The pneumococcal vaccination (or pneumonia vaccination) protects against potentially fatal infections such as pneumonia, septicaemia and meningitis. This vaccination is free on the NHS for certain people including babies, people who are 65 and over or children and adults with certain long-term conditions. Those who are eligible and considered high-risk include:

  • People who have had their spleen removed
  • People with chronic respiratory, heart, kidney or liver disease
  • People with diabetes
  • People who are immunosuppressed due to a medical condition or treatment (i.e. chemotherapy for cancer or disease-modifying drugs for certain types of arthritis)
  • People with cochlear implants
  • People with cerebrospinal fluid leaks

If you are eligible for the pneumonia vaccine, you will be notified by your GP. The frequency of the jab depends on your age and the reason you need it. To find out more about the PNA vaccine, take a look at this information provided by the NHS > https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinations/pneumococcal-vaccination/

 

Hepatitis B

The hepatitis B vaccination protects against the hep B virus, which is a major cause of serious liver damage. The vaccination is free on the NHS to babies and anyone else who is considered at risk by a healthcare professional. Those who require a vaccination for travelling purposes may be required to pay a fee. If your GP considers you a high-risk patient, they will recommend a dosing schedule based on your age and the type of vaccination you are receiving. People who typically fall into the high-risk category include:

  • People who inject drugs or have a partner who injects drugs
  • People who change sexual partners frequently
  • Men who have sex with men
  • Babies born to infected mothers
  • Close family or sexual partners of someone with hep B
  • Anyone who receives regular blood transfusions and their carers
  • People with any form of chronic liver disease
  • People with chronic kidney disease
  • People travelling to high risk countries
  • Male and female sex workers
  • People whose work puts them at risk of contact with blood or body fluids
  • Prisoners
  • Families adopting or fostering children from high-risk countries

 

Chickenpox

The chickenpox vaccination is only offered to people who are in close contact with someone vulnerable to the infection or its complications – such as those having chemotherapy. The reason it is not included as a childhood jab is because it is safer for children to get chickenpox while they are young, making it less likely for them to get it again as an adult where it could have much more series implications, resulting in lung problems. Currently, the only people eligible for the chickenpox vaccination on the NHS are:

  • Non-immune healthcare workers.
  • Close relatives and carers of people who are unwell and have not had chickenpox

 

Travel Jabs

If you are travelling outside of the UK, you may need to be vaccinated against serious diseases found in other parts of the world. If you are visiting countries outside of Europe, North America and Australia, it is more likely that you will need a vaccination. Before you travel, we recommend talking to your GP about what is required. If your GP is signed up to provide immunisations services, you can get the following travel jabs for free on the NHS:

  • Polio
  • Typhoid
  • Hepatitis A

Here is a list of other travel vaccinations you may need, which are not free on the NHS:

  • Hepatitis B
  • Japanese encephalitis
  • Meningitis
  • Rabies
  • Tick-borne encephalitis
  • Tuberculosis (TB)
  • Yellow fever

Morlais Health is an immunisation practice, offering nearly all of the vaccinations listed above. If you require a vaccination or have had a letter stating that you are due one, please get in touch to make an appointment.