Check your child’s red book to see if vaccinations are up-to-date


Immunisation is the safest and most effective way of protecting against serious diseases. The Public Health Agency (PHA) strongly recommends that babies and children are vaccinated according to the Routine Childhood Immunisations Schedule; and are urging parents to check their child’s red book to see if vaccinations are up-to-date.

Vaccination rates have seen a slight decrease over recent years and the additional disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to have caused some of the decreases in vaccine coverage. It is important vaccination coverage is improved as soon as possible to help prevent the spread of avoidable serious and sometimes deadly diseases such as measles and polio.

Louise Flanagan, Consultant in Public Health at the PHA, said: “Many childhood diseases that were common in the UK prior to the introduction of vaccination such as measles or polio have been dramatically reduced or have disappeared altogether. However, once a disease fades from prominence, it is easy to forget how serious they could be. Unfortunately, unless vaccine uptake remains high in Northern Ireland, many deadly diseases will return from parts of the world where they still occur.”

The virtual eradication of these deadly illnesses here, is thanks to the fact that we are lucky to have a free, comprehensive vaccination programme in place for our new born babies, right up to 70+ year olds.

Ms. Flanagan continued: “The childhood vaccination programme has been a tremendous success, with Northern Ireland traditionally having uptake rates above the UK average. However, some vaccines have seen a decline in uptake recently.

“If you are unsure if your child is up to date with vaccinations the easiest way to check is to look at your child’s red book or speak to your health visitor. If your child has missed a vaccination, please contact your GP practice to book an appointment as soon as you can to make sure they have maximum protection against disease. The school-based vaccination programme, which includes the HPV, school leavers’ booster and MenACWY is also continuing, so don’t forgot to sign and return consent forms when you receive them.”

It’s important to be informed about all vaccines, but there is lots of misinformation out there. Make sure your facts come from a reliable source, like the PHA, your own GP or health visitor.

It is only when people continue to get their children and themselves vaccinated in large numbers that we can prevent these diseases, and the possible deaths, so it is vitally important that we don’t take our health and that of our children for granted.

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