Vaccination is different from giving medicine to an unwell person to make them better. The benefits of vaccination are invisible. The idea is that you or your child won't become ill from the disease that the vaccine prevents.
All medicines have side effects however, vaccines are among the safest medicines and the benefits of vaccinations far outweigh the risk of side effects. They're not 100% effective in every person, but they're the best defence against the epidemics that used to kill or permanently disable millions of children and adults.
A checklist of the vaccines that are routinely offered to everyone in the UK free of charge on the NHS, and the ages at which they should ideally be given, can be found on the NHS website.
The list includes vaccines for special groups and travel vaccines available free on the NHS.
Most adults between the ages of 18 and 65 do not normally need vaccines unless they are at greater risk of contracting a specific disease. This risk can be increased due to occupation, pregnancy, illness, treatment for certain conditions, a suppressed immune system, injury or travelling to areas where diseases are more prevalent. People over the age of 65 are also considered to be an "at risk" group.
The vaccines available for "at risk" people include Flu, Chickenpox, BCG (TB), Hepatitis B, MMR (for non-immune adults) and MenACWY (for students).
Vaccinations for pregnant women include Whooping cough and DTaP/IPV (4-in-1 diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis and polio). For further information about vaccinations during pregnancy please visit the NHS website.
The vaccines available for over 65s include Pneumococcal PPV vaccine and the annual Flu vaccine.
There is also an additional Shingles vaccine for over 70s.
You can book your COVID vaccinations online by visiting www.nhs.uk/nhs-services/covid-19-services/covid-19-vaccination-services/book-covid-19-vaccination/ or by calling 119. Please note that this service may not be available all year round.
For further information about accessing the service please visit lincolnshire.icb.nhs.uk/grab-a-jab/.
Many adults, most children and all pregnant women are eligible for a free flu vaccine. Find out who is eligible and where you can get the flu vaccine at www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinations/flu-influenza-vaccine.
Community pharmacies also offer the flu vaccination, and appointments can be booked using the National Booking Service or by calling 119. You can use textphone 18001 or the NHS 119 British Sign Language (BSL) interpreter service if you have difficulties communicating or hearing, or if you are a BSL user.
For a list of the community pharmacies and a map showing their location, visit the Lincolnshire Community Pharmacies site.
Immunisations for pre-school children start 8 weeks after birth and include:
- 6-in-one vaccine
- Protects against diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, polio, Hib and hepatitis B
- Given at 8, 12 and 16 weeks of age
- Pneumococcal jab (PCV)
- Protects against some types of pneumococcal infection
- Given at 8 weeks, 16 weeks and one year of age
- Rotavirus vaccine
- Protects against rotavirus infection, a common cause of childhood diarrhoea and sickness
- Given at 8 and 12 weeks of age
- Men B vaccine
- Protects against meningitis (caused by meningococcal type B bacteria)
- Given at 8 weeks, 16 weeks and one year of age
- Hib/Men C vaccine
- Protects against Haemophilus influenza type b (Hib) and meningitis caused by meningococcal group C bacteria
- Given at one year of age
- MMR vaccine
- Protects against measles, mumps and rubella
- Given at one year and at three years and four months of age
- Children's flu vaccine
- Protects against flu
- Given annually in September/October as a nasal spray to children aged two to eight
- 4-in-1 pre-school booster
- Protects against diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough and polio
- Given at three years and four months of age
There are also optional vaccines aimed at children who have, or whose siblings have, supressed immune systems or are otherwise at greater risk of coming into contact with certain diseases. These include vaccines for Chickenpox, Tuberculosis, Flu and Hepatitis B.
For further information about NHS vaccinations and when to have them visit the NHS Website.
There are a number of immunisations administered to children of school age, usually in schools or in some cases, local health clinics.
For further information about these vaccinations, including patient information leaflets, visit the following websites:
Benefits and risks of vaccinations
All medicines have side effects. However, vaccines are among the safest and the benefits of vaccinations far outweigh the risk of side effects.
Having a vaccination is much safer than not having one. They're not 100% effective in every child, but they're the best defence against the epidemics that used to kill or permanently disable millions of children and adults.
When you're considering a vaccination for yourself or your child, it's natural to focus on the potential side effects. But a better approach is to try to balance the benefits of having a vaccine against the chances of harm. Further information about the benefits and side effects of vaccinations can be found on the NHS website.
Specific information about side effects of vaccines and medicines can be found via pharmaceutical company websites or patient information leaflet. If you do not have the patient information leaflet, you can view one via the electronic Medicines Compendium (eMC).
If you think that you or someone you are with may be having a serious allergic reaction to a medicine, phone 999 and ask for immediate medical help.
Contact your GP or pharmacist immediately if:
- you think you have a side effect that is listed as severe in your medicine's patient information leaflet (PIL)
- you have a side effect you think is serious
You don't need to see your GP with mild side effects, such as nausea, if you feel you can manage these on your own. Your pharmacist should also be able to tell you if the side effects need further investigation by your GP.
If you have questions or concerns before a vaccination, speak to your GP or health professional.