As part of  World Immunization Week 2020, our resources on childhood immunisations have been updated with the latest information and advice during the current COVID-19 pandemic – two Parent Tips and one Good Practice Points for Health Visitors.

The two updated Parent Tips:

  • one providing some basic information on the childhood immunisation programme, explaining how vaccines work, how they are regulated and why it is important to ensure your baby receives all the recommended immunisations
  • the second,  provides answers to “Frequently Asked Questions” and has been written by leading national experts. It covers getting your baby immunised and what to expect, including information on things such as soothing your baby
    during and after vaccinations, and what to do if they are poorly on the day of their appointment.

Just to reassure you that despite the current COVID-19 pandemic, it is still recommended that your child receives their vaccines as this protects them against other serious diseases that can still cause them harm.

These updated Parent Tips, together with those published last week and yesterday, can be found in our **Parenting Through Coronavirus (COVID-19)** webpage


The Good Practice Points for Health Visitors:

The immunisation programme is a key component of the Healthy Child Programme. It is important for health visitors to be aware of current research and practice to promote immunisation uptake and know where to go for information.  Uptake of childhood vaccines in the UK is is generally high, although uptake of the MMR is a concern and the UK lost its ‘measles-free’ status last year. There are also concerns about the impact of the COVID-19 lockdown on immunisation uptake.

COVID-19 webpages
  • For Health Visitors– This updated GPP is available in our GPP resource section of our website and can also be found on our COVID-19 (coronavirus) guidance for health visitors webpage –
  • For parents and families– These updated Parent Tips are available in the Families Parent Tips section of our website as well as our Parenting through Coronavirus (COVID-19) webpage –

We have waivered our usual restrictions on resources for members and the COVID-19 sections of our website are “free access” to all to support the national response to this pandemic.




Parents of 2 and 3-year olds are urged to protect their children against flu, which can be a serious and fatal illness.

Those aged 65 and over, children and adults with underlying medical conditions and pregnant women are also urged to get their free vaccine in the next few weeks, before flu begins to circulate widely.

The primary schools-based flu vaccination programme is once again underway. This follows a temporary pause in the ordering of the nasal vaccine, which was caused by delays from the manufacturer.

Primary school clinics will be rescheduled as soon as possible and children in high risk groups should visit their GP if their school session has been delayed, to ensure that they are protected early. GPs have now been advised to call in all eligible children for vaccination by early December.

Read more here

In addition, England’s chief nursing officer has issued a new appeal to NHS staff urging them to fulfil their “duty” to get vaccinated against influenza this winter. Dr Ruth May has written an open letter to frontline nurses and other health professionals working in the health system to urge them to work together to achieve a high level of coverage this season.

Also read our guest blog from the National Infection Service, Public Health England: Help us help you this winter by getting your flu vaccination

Public Health England (PHE) is calling for all parents to get their children vaccinated against measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) when the vaccine is offered, or for them to take it up now if they didn’t have it at the scheduled time.

In the first quarter of 2019, there were 231 confirmed cases of measles. This figure is slightly lower compared to the same quarter last year. As measles is highly infectious, anyone who has not received two doses of MMR vaccine is at risk, particularly unvaccinated people travelling to countries where there are currently large outbreaks of measles. The recent measles cases are mainly occurring in under-vaccinated communities, particularly those with links to other countries with ongoing measles outbreaks. There has also been some spread into the wider population, such as those who may have missed out on the MMR vaccine when they were younger.

In the final quarter of 2018 94.9% of eligible children aged five received the first dose of MMR. To achieve herd immunity for measles at least 90-95% of the population need to be fully protected. One dose of the MMR vaccine is about 90-95% effective at preventing measles. After a second dose the level of protection is around 99%. Coverage of the second dose is at 87.4% for children aged five. PHE is therefore urging those who have only had one dose to ensure they are fully vaccinated with two doses.

This quarter, 795 cases of mumps have also been confirmed. No new cases of rubella were reported.

The MMR vaccine is given on the NHS as a single injection to babies as part of their routine vaccination schedule, usually within a month of their first birthday. A second injection of the vaccine is given just before starting school, usually at 3 years and 4 months. The vaccine is also available to all adults and children who are not up to date with their two doses. Anyone who is not sure if they are fully vaccinated should check with their GP and those planning to travel to Europe should check NaTHNaC travel health advice.

iHV welcomes the National Minimum Standards and Core Curriculum for Immunisation Training for Registered Healthcare Practitioners which have just been published.

The National Minimum Standards and Core Curriculum for Immunisation Training for Registered Healthcare Practitioners sets the standards and lists the essential topics which should be incorporated into immunisation training for registered healthcare practitioners.

The aim of the national standards is to describe the training that should be given to all practitioners engaging in any aspect of immunisation so that they are able to confidently, competently and effectively promote and administer vaccinations.

Dr Cheryll Adams CBE, executive director, iHV, said:

“iHV welcomes this new guidance from Public Health England on the training and standards required to support a high quality, safe and effective immunisation programme that achieves high uptake.  It is important that HVs, who visit every baby and family, have a good knowledge of immunisation and are confident to advise parents. Comprehensive training and regular updates combined with supervision and support as laid out in the guidance will help support HVs to achieve this.”

Public Health England (PHE) has issued a press release highlighting recent measles outbreaks that are linked to ongoing large outbreaks in Europe, with Romania, Italy and Germany being the worst affected countries.

PHE calls on anyone travelling to Romania, Italy and Germany this Christmas to ensure they are up to date with their MMR jab

Measles is highly infectious and can lead to serious complications, particularly in immunosuppressed individuals and young infants. It is also more severe in pregnancy, and increases the risk of miscarriage, stillbirth or preterm delivery.

Members of the Romanian community and unimmunised individuals travelling to Romania, Italy and Germany are at particularly high risk of acquiring measles. Experience from recent outbreaks shows that, despite living in the UK for a number of years, many individuals infected with measles were unvaccinated, and that families are often not registered with a GP practice.

PHE is asking health professionals to note the following:
Individuals with suspected or known measles:

  • should be isolated immediately when attending health care settings to reduce the risk of other patients being exposed
  • recent travel to countries with ongoing measles outbreaks like Romania, Italy and Germany increases the likelihood of a measles diagnosis
  • all suspected measles cases should be promptly notified by phone to the local Health Protection Team (HPT) to facilitate timely public health action

MMR vaccine:

  • children should receive their two scheduled doses of MMR vaccine on time at the ages of 12 months and 3 years and 4 months
  • the MMR vaccine can be given from six months of age before travel to a high risk country
  • patients over the age of three years and four months who do not have two recorded doses of MMR vaccine should be caught up opportunistically. There is no upper age limit to offering MMR vaccine.
  • new entrants from abroad and newly registered patients should have their immunisation history checked and missing doses caught up
  • postnatal women should have their MMR status checked and offered any outstanding doses
  • all health professionals should make sure they are fully protected against measles, mumps and rubella

Under-vaccinated communities:
Health professionals who work with under-vaccinated communities should collaborate with local partners to raise awareness about measles with those most at risk and ensure unregistered populations can access immunisation services.

Measles resources

Measles resources including national guidelines for health professionals and free to order posters and leaflets for patients are :

National guidelines

Free copies of PHE leaflets and posters can be ordered through the Health and Social Care Orderline: Alternatively, you can call 0300 123 1003.

Guidance for healthcare professionals on the hexavalent vaccine programme for babies born after 1 August 2017.

From autumn 2017, all babies born on or after 1 August 2017 will become eligible for a hexavalent vaccine which includes hepatitis B (HepB) for their primary immunisations. This vaccine, called Infanrix hexa®, will replace the pentavalent infant vaccines Infanrix®-IPV+Hib and Pediacel®.

This guidance is intended to provide healthcare professionals with more information about vaccinating high risk infants in light of the new universal hepatitis B infant programme.

Premature babies have a higher risk of infection. They should be immunised in line with the recommended schedule from two months after birth, no matter how premature they were.

A leaflet for parents which describes the immunisations offered to premature babies:

In Voices Tomorrow read the blog by Pauline Watts, Professional Officer for Health Visiting at Department of Health and Alison Burton, Maternity and Early Years Lead at Public Health on immunisations. This blog will look at the issues around child and young people immunisations.