Is your child up-to-date on their vaccinations? To help ensure they are The Portland Hospital’s Paediatricians explain the childhood vaccinations that can help to protect your family from potentially harmful diseases.
The BCG (TB) vaccine
‘Over 8,000 people a year get Tuberculosis (TB) in the UK and more than 300 of those are under the age of 15,’ explains Consultant Paediatrician, Dr Dionysios Alexandrou.
‘BCG is the only vaccine currently available for protection against TB and it is recommended for infants living in areas with more than 40 cases of TB per 100,000 population per year, as well as those whose parents or grandparents are from countries with at least that incidence’.
‘The BCG vaccine offers high degree of protection especially against severe forms of tuberculosis, such as tuberculous meningitis in children’, adds Dr Alexandrou.
The MMR (Measles,Mumps and Rubella) vaccine
‘Measles was once a very common illness in the UK and thousands of children died every year from the condition in the last century,’ says Consultant Paediatrician, Dr Andrew Raffles.
‘The development of an effective routine vaccination, the MMR vaccine, has ensured that cases declined to as few as 1 per cent of people in some countries but to prevent an outbreak from happening it is estimated that 95 per cent of the population should be immunised.’
‘In the UKthe MMR is a voluntary vaccination that is administered to children at the age of 12 months and then again at 3 to 4 years of age via an injection. Should you live in an area with a high risk of measles infection, the MMR vaccination can be given at an earlier age, as young as 6 months, or at a later age if your child was not vaccinated as an infant.’
The Flu vaccine
‘Flu is a seasonal illness that can affect previously healthy children and give rise to serious complications such as ear infections and pneumonia. It is particularly common in children due to their lack of prior exposure and immunity to the3 different viruses that can cause the illness which can mutate into different strains and repeatedly invade and evade the immune systems,’explains Dr Alexandrou.
The best way to protect your children from seasonal flu is to get them vaccinated every year at The Portland Hospital’s paediatric flu clinic.
‘There are two types of flu vaccine. The injectable form, licensed from 6 months of age and the nasal spray (contains live, attenuated virus), licensed from the age of 2 years. Both vaccines should be given in two doses in previously unvaccinated children’ Dr Alexandrou adds.
The HPV (Human Papillomavirus) vaccine
Human Papillomavirus is the virus that causes genital warts and cervical cancer.
Available for girls and young women over the age of 12, the HPV vaccine can help to protect women who have never come across the virus before. This vaccine consists of a course of three injections that are given over a course of a year and could provide your daughter with excellent protection from HPV virus should she encounter it in adulthood.
Appointments for the HPV vaccine can be made at The Portland Hospital’s Women's Health Outpatient Clinic on telephone number 020 7390 6200.
The Meningitis B vaccine
‘Meningitis B is an aggressive strain of bacterial meningitis which infects the lining membranes of the brain and spinal cord’ explains Dr Raffles.
Although the Meningitis vaccine has only been available for a short time it’s importance in the fight against childhood meningitis has already been established and as Dr Raffles explains this vaccine ‘is the product of 20 years of research and development and represents a major defence against the more common causes of bacterial meningitis in children’.
‘The Meningitis B vaccine is is given as a 2 or 3 dose course, depending on the age of the child. It is at least 73% effective and has been trialled in over 8000 children. It can be given combined with the primary immunisations given at 2,3 and 4 months,’ adds Dr Raffles
For more advice on the paediatric vaccination services available at The Portland Hospital please contact the Children’s Services Enquiry Line on 020 3411 0835.