Every child in south east London deserves the best start in life possible. We are striving to ensure all parents and carers get the information, services and support needed for their child’s health and well-being, including protection against harmful childhood infections and diseases.

Making sure children are up to date with all their routine vaccinations will help protect their health now and for the future. Vaccines are a crucial part of everyone’s defence against infectious diseases.

Did you know:

  • Vaccines reduce the spread of infectious disease and even get rid of some completely
  • When enough people get vaccinated, it’s harder for a disease to spread to those who can’t have vaccines
  • Getting vaccinated protects not only you but also your family, friends and community
  • Vaccines are made to prevent people from getting serious infectious diseases. It’s much safer for your immune system to learn to fight illness through vaccination than by catching and treating them.

More information about vaccines is available on the NHS website.

If you would like to know more about vaccines including vaccines by age group (and schedules), the research behind vaccines and how they help prevent illness and spread, go to the Oxford University Vaccines Knowledge Project – a source of independent, evidence-based information about vaccines and infectious diseases.

Failing to protect children increases risk to health

In recent years, fewer children have been getting vaccines they need to help prevent illness now and in future. In 2021, nearly 15% of children in London didn’t have their 6-in-1 vaccination – which protects against diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, polio, disease caused by Haemophilus influenzae type b, hepatitis B.

In 2021 – 2022, only 79.9% of London had their vital MMR vaccine – protecting them against measles, mumps and rubella.

Numbers in people having both vaccines are well below the World Health Organisation target of 95%. That’s why we are encouraging parents and carers to find out more, and ensure their children are up to date with their vaccine schedule – also known as their ‘Red Book’. (Source)

Please click the links below to find out more.

Polio vaccination

Polio is a serious infection that’s now very rare because of the vaccination programme. It’s only found in a few countries and the chance of getting it in the UK is extremely low.

Polio in the UK

There have been no confirmed cases of paralysis due to polio caught in the UK since 1984.

Although some poliovirus has been found in sewage from London recently, the risk of getting it remains extremely low.

The chance of getting ill from polio is higher if you are not fully vaccinated, so it’s important to make sure you, and your child, are up to date with your vaccines.


Flu is caused by the influenza virus. It can be a very unpleasant illness for children. It can also lead to serious problems, such as bronchitis and pneumonia.

Children can catch and spread flu easily. Vaccinating them also protects others who are vulnerable to flu, such as babies and older people.

Strep A / Scarlet Fever

Strep A, also known as Group A Strep, strep, and strep throat, is a common bacteria called group a streptococcus (GAS). Lots of us carry it in our throats and on our skin and it doesn’t always result in illness. However, Strep A does cause a number of infections, some mild and some more serious.

Milder infections caused by Strep A include scarlet fever, impetigo, cellulitis, tonsillitis and pharyngitis (a sore throat).


Measles, mumps and rubella are highly infectious conditions can easily spread between unvaccinated people.

Getting vaccinated is important, as these conditions can also lead to serious problems including meningitis, hearing loss and problems during pregnancy.

Two doses of the MMR vaccine provide the best protection against measles, mumps and rubella.

Frequently asked questions

When should I contact NHS 111 or my GP?

Contact your GP or use the NHS 111 website if your child is:

  • Unable to swallow saliva or is drooling
  • Seems dehydrated (sunken eyes, drowsy or not passed urine for 12 hours)
  • Is feeding or eating much less than normal
  • Is becoming drowsy (excessively sleepy) or irritable (unable to settle them with toys, TV, food or picking up) – especially if they remain drowsy or irritable despite their fever coming down
  • Has extreme shivering or complains of muscle pain
  • Develops a painful, red swollen gland in their neck which is increasing in size
  • Is 3-6 months of age with a temperature of 39°C / 102.2°F or above (but fever is common in babies up to 2 days after they receive vaccinations)
  • Continues to have a fever of 38.0°C / 100.4°F or more for more than 5 days
  • If your child has recently had scarlet fever but now appears to have a puffy face/eyelids, tea ‘coca-cola’ coloured urine (pee), or a swollen, painful joint(s)
  • Is getting worse or if you are worried
  • Read more about Strep A, scarlet fever and other, related symptoms including advice on when to worry about coughs, colds, earache and sore throats in the ‘When should I worry’ booklet

If none of the above features are present, please continue looking after your child at home and ask for help from your pharmacist to keep your child more comfortable.

When should I call 999 or go to A&E?

Call 999 or go to A&E If your child has any of the following:

  • Is having difficulty breathing – you may notice grunting noises or their tummy sucking under their ribs
  • Becomes pale, mottled and feels abnormally cold to touch
  • Is going blue around the lips
  • Too breathless to talk / eat or drink
  • Has a fit/seizure
  • Becomes extremely agitated (crying inconsolably despite distraction), confused or very lethargic (difficult to wake) or floppy
  • Develops a rash that does not disappear with pressure (the ‘Glass Test’)
  • Is under 3 months of age with a temperature of 38°C / 100.4°F or above (unless fever in the 48 hours following vaccinations and no other red or amber features)
  • Read more about Strep A, scarlet fever and other, related symptoms including advice on when to worry about coughs, colds, earache and sore throats in the ‘When should I worry’ booklet

How do I know if my child is up to date with vaccines they need? Or I don’t know if my child has had the vaccines they should have – how can I find out?

You can contact your GP surgery to check if your child is up to date with their vaccinations. For children and babies, you can also check their personal child health record (the ‘Red Book’). If your child is not registered with a GP, you can still arrange a vaccination.

My child isn’t registered with a GP – how do I get them vaccinated?

If your child is not registered with a GP, you can still arrange a vaccination. Anyone in England can register with a GP surgery. It’s free to register. You do not need any proof of address or immigration status, ID or an NHS number.

You can find a GP local to you at www.nhs.uk/service-search/find-a-gp

You can either register your child online or call or email the GP surgery and ask to be registered as a patient. Once you are registered the NHS will let you know when you can book your polio appointment. There is also information on large-scale vaccination centres in south east London where you can book an appointments in the ‘Where do I get my child’s vaccine?’ section above.

South East London Integrated Care Board (the ICB) is an NHS organisation and is responsible for coordinating NHS vaccination services in south east London.