What is immunisation?
Immunisation ensures that our bodies are best protected against some serious diseases. It means that if we come into contact with certain diseases our bodies are better equipped to fight them off.
As a result of the UK’s national immunisation programme, a number of disease have disappeared from the UK, such as polio. However, as they are still present in other countries they could come back, so it is vital that we remain as protected as possible. Maintaining high immunisation rates means we not only protect ourselves, but also our families and communities and keep diseases at bay.
How does immunisation work?
An immunisation or vaccine contains a tiny part of the bacterium or virus that causes a disease, or tiny amounts of the chemicals the bacterium produces. By receiving vaccines our immune systems are able to produce antibodies, which are substances to fight specific infections or diseases. This is so that if we later come into contact with the disease, our immune system already has the armour to recognise it and fight it off.
Are there any reasons why someone should not be immunised?
There are very few medical reasons why your child should not have a vaccine. If you are worried, you can talk to your child’s school nurse or GP.
If a person has had a confirmed anaphylactic reaction to a previous vaccine they should seek advice before having another vaccine
When should someone be immunised and for what?
It is important that your child is immunised at the right age. You can read more about this on the NHS Choices website. Our school-based Immunisation Team is responsible for school-based immunisation programmes in the boroughs of Kensington and Chelsea, and Westminster as well as some other London boroughs.
Our vaccination programmes are primarily carried out in school-based settings and are delivered according to national campaigns and the schedule school vaccination programme.
We also offer local catch-up clinics for those who have been absent during school vaccination programmes or for young people educated at home or with an individual need.
Our team is led by an immunisations specialist nurse who works in conjunction with the school nursing service. The team work in partnership with Public Health England, GPs, and local services such as Health Visiting Teams, Community Children’s Nursing Teams, Looked After Children's Teams, the Child Development Centre and Social Services.
Consent forms and information leaflets are sent out by your child’s school or direct to parents or carers at the appropriate time. Please make sure that you complete and return the form to the team; the form will explain what you need to do.
We will always make the most effort to receive the completed consent form from parents or carers. However, if the consent form is not received, young people in secondary school are able to self-consent in certain circumstances (known as ‘Fraser consent’) but only after an individual assessment by the immunisation nurse. The nurse will check the child meets certain guidelines, such as being able to understand the information and have capacity in order to self-consent.
The nurse will check the consent form and make sure that your child is well and able to have the immunisations that day.
What vaccinations are offered in school?
- BCG tuberculosis (TB) vaccine for infants up to 12 months of age
- The HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) vaccine for 12 to 13 year old girls in year 8
- The DTP (diphtheria, tetanus and polio) final school booster for 14- to 15 year old girls and boys in year 10
- Meningococcal (Meningitis) ACWY vaccine for 14 to 15 year old girls and boys in year 10
- Seasonal Influenza (‘flu) Vaccination for some primary school children
How to get in touch with the Immunisation Team
TThe Immunisation Team for Kensington and Chelsea and Westminster has different contact details to the School Nursing Team.
To get in touch with the School Nursing Team, please see the ‘contact us’ page on this website. You can talk to our school nurses if you have any questions too.
Our Immunisation Team’s phone lines are open from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. There is no clinic service during school holidays. The Immunisation Team is based in Camden and you can contact them by telephone on 020 3317 5075, or you can ring the telephone number on the letter you receive from them.
What vaccines are offered in school?
The HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) vaccine for 12 to 13 year old girls in year 8
The HPV vaccine is given to 12 to 13 year old girls to protect against cervical cancer. The HPV vaccination programme involves two injections, given between six and 24 months apart. It is vital that your child has both of these for effective protection. The vaccine is not a replacement for safe sex and a healthy lifestyle. Read more about the HPV vaccine
The diphtheria, tetanus and polio final school booster for 14 to 15 year old girls and boys in years 9 and 10 The teenage booster, also known as the ‘3-in-1’ or the Td/IPV vaccine, is given as a single injection into the upper arm. This vaccine boosts your protection against three separate diseases: tetanus, diphtheria and polio.
Tetanus is a painful disease affecting the nervous system which can lead to muscle spasms, breathing problems and can be fatal. It is caused when bacteria found in soil and manure gets into the body through open cuts or burns. Read more about tetanus on NHS Choices.
Diphtheria is a serious disease that usually begins with a sore throat and can rapidly cause breathing problems. It can damage the heart and nervous system, and in severe cases, it can kill. Read more about diphtheria on NHS Choices.
Polio is a virus that attacks the nervous system which can cause permanent paralysis of muscles. If it affects the chest muscles or the brain, polio can kill. Read more about polio on NHS Choices.
The 3-in-1 teenage booster is a very safe vaccine, however in a small number of cases there are minor side-effects such as swelling, redness or tenderness where you had the injection. Sometimes, a small painless lump develops, but usually goes away in a few weeks. For more information about the 3-in-1 teenage booster, visit NHS Choices.
Meningococcal (Meningitis) ACWY vaccine for 14 to 15 year old girls and boys in year 10
Meningitis is inflammation of the lining of the brain. One of the most serious and common causes of meningitis is by meningococcal bacteria. As well as meningitis, meningococcal infection can lead to septicemia (blood poisoning), both of which can be very serious causing permanent disability and can be fatal.
The symptoms usually appear quite quickly and you should, or get your child, treated immediately. Early signs of meningitis or septicemia are similar to when you get the flu – feeling hot, being sick and pain in the back or joints.
For meningitis other important signs to look out for include having a stiff neck, very bad headache, light hurting the eyes, a fever, vomiting, feeling drowsy or confused and red or purple spots that don’t fade under pressure. You can check this by pushing a drinking glass on the spot to see if it fades or not.
For septicemia the important signs are sleepiness, confused, bad pain in joints, very cold hands and feet, shivering, breathing quickly, vomiting, fever, cramps and diarrhoea, and red or purple spots that don’t fade under pressure. You can check this by pushing a drinking glass on the spot to see if it fades or not. If you, or your child, have a combination of these symptoms, get help urgently. The quicker you receive treatment, the greater the chance of a full recovery. Otherwise get in touch with your GP, call 999, or go to your nearest Accident and Emergency Department (A&E).
Teenagers are at higher risk of developing meningococcal disease and will be offered the vaccine which protects against four different types of Meningitis: A, C, W and Y, and usually given at the same time as the 3-in-1 teenage booster. The ‘Men ACWY’ vaccine is a single injection into the upper arm. For more information on the ‘Men ACWY’ vaccine, visit NHS Choices.
Seasonal Influenza (‘flu’) vaccination
The Seasonal Flu vaccine programme runs during the Autumn Term each year. This year it will include those children from reception class to year 4 only.
The flu vaccine for children is given as a single dose of nasal spray squirted up each nostril.
The flu vaccine is given as a single dose of nasal spray which is squirted up each nostril. Not only is it needle-free but the nasal spray is more effective for use in younger children with fewer side effects.
It’s quick and painless and having the vaccine will mean your child is less likely to become ill if they come into contact with the flu virus.
For more information on the flu vaccination, please visit NHS Choices, or open the following information leaflets:
All about flu and how to stop getting it: Easy read version
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