This page is designed to support health and care professionals in promoting take-up of vaccinations across our population and diverse communities in south east London’s six boroughs. You can also signpost people to our public website page on children’s immunisations.

Jump to promotional resources

Update: July 2023

A new NHSE campaign is underway focused on getting children up to date with MMR and polio routine vaccinations.  For children aged under five, take-up rates are below 75% for both in London. The NHS is contacting parents and carers directly to encourage ‘catch-up’ vaccinations at GP surgeries. Further details of the public-facing campaign are on our public website.

The NHS is also inviting children under 5 (6 months to 4 years) who are in a clinical risk group for a COVID-19 vaccination. Check the JCVI advice for more information.

Vaccines and when children should have them

Our interactive online timeline shows when children are due their routine vaccinations. We have produced a handy credit card-sized version and we can send you large numbers of these, free of charge.

MenB vaccine

Key information for parents/carers:

The MenB vaccine will protect your baby against infection by meningococcal group B bacteria. These bacteria are responsible for about 9 in every 10 meningococcal infections in young children. Meningococcal infections can be very serious, causing meningitis and sepsis. This can lead to severe brain damage, amputations and, sometimes, death. The MenB vaccine is offered as part of the NHS vaccination schedule. It’s given to babies at:

  • 8 weeks
  • 16 weeks
  • 1 year

Further information for healthcare professionals on the Meningococcal B vaccine: Meningococcal B: vaccine information for healthcare professionals – GOV.UK (

Measles, mumps and rubella and the MMR vaccine

The MMR vaccine consistently has one of the lowest take up rates of all childhood immunisations. London MMR immunisation rates lag behind the national average.

There is much disparity across London too, with uptake MMR2 at 5 years varying from 58% to 87% uptake across the 32 boroughs, yet 95% vaccine coverage is needed for effective herd immunity.

Key information on MMR messages to give to parents and use on your websites and other channels:

  • If your child has missed any of their MMR vaccinations, it’s never too late to catch up – check your child’s Red Book, if they have one. If you don’t have a Red Book, contact your GP surgery to find out if they are fully vaccinated. Children not registered with a GP can still get vaccinations, and you should contact a local GP surgery.
  • The MMR vaccine is a safe and effective combined vaccine. It protects against three serious illnesses (measles, mumps and rubella). These are highly infectious conditions and can easily spread between unvaccinated people.
  • The MMR vaccine is given in two doses – the first at one year old, the second at 18 months old to ensure they get the best protection as early as possible.

Jump to FAQs to support parent/carer conversations on MMR

Polio and the polio vaccination

There have been no confirmed cases of paralysis due to polio caught in the UK since 1984. Some type 2 vaccine-derived poliovirus (VDPV2) was found in sewage in London in early 2022. A subsequent polio vaccination programme provided a booster for children up to date with their routine vaccinations, and brought others up to date.

The risk of getting polio remains extremely low. Our focus is on ensuring all children are up to date with the NHS routine vaccines schedule, of which polio is an important part.

For more info on polio go to Polio vaccination – NHS South East London and Polio – NHS.

Jump to FAQs to support parent/carer conversations on polio

Children with uncertain or incomplete vaccination status

UKHSA has produced this useful guidance for when children’s vaccination status is unknown, or incomplete.

The HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccine is a two-dose course, offered to boys and girls in years 8 and 9 (aged 12-13) and protects against genital warts and HPV related cancers such as cervical cancer and cancers of the head and neck.

Further information and guidance for healthcare professionals on HPV vaccination: HPV vaccination: guidance for healthcare practitioners – GOV.UK (

The Meningococcal ACWY (MenACWY) vaccine is offered to young people aged 13 to 15 (year 9 and 10) and protects against meningitis and septicaemia caused by meningococcal groups A, C, W and Y. It’s also important for students going to university or college for the first time. This is because older teenagers and new students are at higher risk of infection because many of them mix closely with lots of new people, some of whom may unknowingly carry the meningococcal bacteria at the back of their nose and throat.

Further information and guidance for healthcare professionals on MenACWY vaccination: MenACWY programme: information for healthcare professionals – GOV.UK (

The 3-in-1 teenage booster is offered to young people in year 9 (age 14) and boosts protection against tetanus, diphtheria and polio.

Further information and guidance for healthcare professionals on the tetanus, diphtheria and polio vaccinations for children:

Jump to FAQs to support parent/carer conversations on school-aged vaccines

Resources: promotional materials

We have produced various resources to help raise awareness of the importance of children’s immunisations.

You can download and print these locally:

Credit card-sized reminder of routine vaccinations for parents and carers

Translated version of reminder card for parents


Translated versions of leaflets

British Society for Immunology video explaining vaccines to parents/carers

Frequently asked questions from parents and carers on MMR and suggested responses

What are Measles, Mumps and Rubella?

Measles, mumps and rubella are highly infectious conditions that can have serious, and potentially fatal, complications, including meningitis, swelling of the brain (encephalitis)and deafness.

They can also lead to complications in pregnancy that affect the unborn baby, and can lead to miscarriage.

Since the MMR vaccine was introduced in 1988, it’s rare for children in the UK to develop these serious conditions. However, outbreaks happen and there have been cases of measles in recent years, so it’s important to ensure that you and your children are up-to-date with the MMR vaccination.

For more information on the MMR vaccine please visit MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine – NHS (

The MMR vaccine – what is it?

The MMR vaccine is a safe and effective combined vaccine. It protects against three serious illnesses:

These highly infectious conditions can easily spread between unvaccinated people.

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

Two doses of the MMR vaccine provide the best protection against measles, mumps and rubella. These are given at 12months and 18 months is most boroughs in south east London.

For more information on the MMR vaccine please visit MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine – NHS (

How does the MMR vaccine work and is it linked to autism?

How the vaccine works…

The MMR vaccine contains weakened versions of live measles, mumps and rubella viruses. The vaccine works by triggering the immune system to produce antibodies against measles, mumps and rubella.

If you or your child then comes into contact with one of the diseases, the immune system will recognise it and immediately produce the antibodies needed to fight it.

It’s not possible for people who have recently had the MMR vaccine to infect other people.

The MMR vaccine given in the UK is known under the brand names Priorix, or M-M-RVAXPRO.

False link to autism…

The MMR vaccine is not linked to autism. There’s no evidence of any link between the MMR vaccine and autism. There are many studies that have investigated this.

There has been some controversy about whether the MMR vaccine might cause autism, following a 1998 study by Dr Andrew Wakefield.

In his paper, published in The Lancet, Dr Wakefield claimed there is a link between the MMR vaccine and autism or bowel disease.

However, Andrew Wakefield’s work has since been completely discredited and he has been struck off as a doctor in the UK. Subsequent studies in the last nine years have found no link between the MMR vaccine and autism or bowel disease.

Watch videos where parents discuss their worries about the MMR vaccine.

For more information on the MMR vaccine please visit MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine – NHS (

Do I have to vaccinate my child? How serious are measles, mumps and rubella?

As many people in this country have been vaccinated with the MMR it can be easy to forget what it was like to have these illnesses or to see children with them. They are all highly infectious and can spread easily between unvaccinated people.

  • Measles usually starts with cold-like symptoms, followed by a rash a few days later. Some people may also get small spots in their mouth. Measles can lead to serious problems if it spreads to other parts of the body, such as the lungs or brain. If you catch measles when you are pregnant, it can harm your baby.
  • Mumps is most recognisable by the painful swellings in the side of the face under the ears. It usually passes without causing serious damage to a person’s health. Serious complications are rare, but mumps can lead to viral meningitis if the virus moves into the outer layer of the brain. Other complications include swelling of the testicles or ovaries (if the affected person has gone through puberty).
  • Rubella (german measles) is a rare illness that causes a spotty rash. It usually gets better in about a week, but it can be serious if you get it when you’re pregnant.

The good news is that your children can be protected from these illnesses and their complications safely and easily by having the MMR vaccination. The health care professionals giving the vaccinations are expert at doing this. They know how to make your child as comfortable as possible and will help you in the consultation.

If you have any questions at all about it please talk to a trusted healthcare professional like a health visitor, school nurse, GP nurse or GP.

For more information on the MMR vaccine please visit MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine – NHS (

Where can I get further information on the MMR vaccine

The Oxford University Vaccine Knowledge Project website has a list of MMR studies and their findings:

Tackling misconceptions on MMR: Addressing misconceptions on measles vaccination (

NHS MMR information including FAQs and translated leaflets: MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine – NHS (

Frequently asked questions from parents and carers on school-age vaccinations and suggested responses

What is the HPV vaccine?

The human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine helps protect against cancers caused by HPV, including:

  • cervical cancer – the most common cancer in women under the age of 35
  • some mouth and throat cancers
  • some cancers of the anal and genital areas

It also helps to protect against genital warts.

In England, girls and boys aged 12 to 13 years are routinely offered the 1st HPV vaccination when they’re in school Year 8. The 2nd dose is offered 6 to 24 months after the 1st dose.

The HPV vaccine has been shown to dramatically reduce cervical cancer rates, by almost 90% in women in their 20s who were offered it at age 12 to 13 in the UK (from research funded by Cancer Research UK).

Evidence from a recent study of 66 million young men and women showed an 83% reduction in high-risk HPV (HPV related to cancer) in teenage girls, and 66% reduction in women aged 20-24. The study also showed precancerous cervical lesions declined by 51% in teenage girls and 31% in women up to age 24 (according to the Vaccine Knowledge Project).

If you’re eligible and missed the HPV vaccine offered in Year 8 at school, it’s available for free on the NHS up until your 25th birthday for:

  • girls born after 1 September 1991
  • boys born after 1 September 2006

Please contact your GP to make an appointment. If you are not registered with a GP please contact any GP surgery for advice.

Some parents and guardians are worried that their child getting the HPV vaccine may lead to risky relationship behaviours. There is no evidence that this happens.

What is the 3-in-1 booster vaccine?

The teenage booster, also known as the 3-in-1 or the Td/IPV vaccine, is given to boost protection against 3 separate diseases: tetanus, diphtheria, and polio. Before vaccines existed, these diseases used to kill thousands of children in the UK every year.

Tetanus is an infection of the nervous system that is always serious and often fatal. The bacteria, called Clostridium tetani, are all around us (for example in soil), and they enter the body through scratches, burns and cuts. The main symptoms include
stiffness in your jaw muscles, painful muscle spasms which can make it difficult to breathe or swallow, a high temperature, sweating and a rapid heartbeat. If it’s not treated, symptoms can get worse over time.

Before World War 2, around 200 people in the UK died of tetanus each year. The vaccine was introduced in 1961, and by the 1970s, tetanus was hardly seen in children in the UK. There are now only a handful of cases each year in the UK, mostly in unvaccinated older people. However, even though the number of cases is very low, there have still been 11 reported deaths from tetanus in the last 20 years in the UK, which is why vaccination is so important.

Diphtheria is a highly contagious infection that affects the nose and throat, and sometimes the skin. It can give you a sore throat and make it difficult for you to breathe and swallow. Before a vaccine was introduced in 1940, diphtheria used to be a common childhood illness which killed an average of 3,500 children a year in the UK. It is hardly seen in countries like the UK anymore because of vaccination. However, the disease is still common in some parts of the world (for example, Russia, India, Africa, South East Asia and South America). Travellers to these areas can bring diphtheria back to the UK, which may put unvaccinated people at risk. Since the start of 2015, two unvaccinated children have died of diphtheria in Europe (one in Spain in 2015 and one in Belgium in 2016).

Polio is a serious infection that can cause flu-like symptoms and in rare cases paralysis. Most people will recover, and movement will slowly come back, however some people can be left with permanent disability. Since February 2022, poliovirus has been detected in sewage samples in North and East London. This means person to person transmission is occurring in the population, leading to risk for those who are unvaccinated or partially vaccinated.

It’s routinely given at secondary school (in school year 9) – usually at the same time as the MenACWY vaccine.

In total, children need 5 doses of the tetanus, diphtheria and polio vaccines through your childhood. This will build up and maintain the body’s own immunity against these infections and protect against the diseases.

People receive the first 3 doses as a baby in the 6-in-1 vaccine. The 4th dose is given around the age of 3 as a pre-school booster in the 4-in-1 vaccine, and the 5th and final dose is the teenage 3-in-1 booster given at age 14 (school year 9).

The best way to prevent polio, tetanus and diphtheria is to make sure your child is up to date with every dose of this vaccine.

What is the Meningococcal ACWY vaccine?

The MenACWY vaccine is given by a single injection and protects against 4 strains of the meningococcal bacteria – A, C, W and Y.

Meningococcal disease can cause both meningitis and septicaemia (blood poisoning). Septicaemia and meningitis can trigger sepsis, which is a life-threatening response to infection. Meningococcal disease is rare but very serious. It requires urgent hospital

It can lead to life-changing disabilities, such as amputations, hearing loss and brain damage.

Children aged 13 to 15 (school Years 9 or 10) are routinely offered the MenACWY vaccine – usually alongside the 3-in-1 teenage booster.

Students going to university or college for the first time should also make sure they’ve had the MenACWY vaccine to prevent meningitis and septicaemia.

Older teenagers and new university students are at higher risk of infection because many of them mix closely with lots of new people, some of whom may unknowingly carry the meningococcal bacteria at the back of their nose and throat.

Where can I get further information on the HPV vaccine?


NHS overview of HPV: Human papillomavirus (HPV) – NHS (

NHS overview of the HPV vaccine HPV vaccine overview – NHS (


Info for health professionals:

Easy read leaflet:

Fact-sheets and addressing myths:

Leaflets in different languages:

Languages available are: English, Albanian, Arabic, Bengali, Brazilian Portuguese, Bulgarian, Chinese, Estonian, Farsi, Greek, Gujarati, Hindi, Latvian, Lithuanian, Panjabi, Polish, Romanian, Romany, Russian, Somali, Spanish, Turkish, Twi, Ukrainian, Urdu and Yiddish.

Frequently asked questions from parents and carers on other vaccinations issues and suggested responses

I don’t know if my child has had their jabs – how can I check?

You can check your child’s personal child health record, you might know it as the “red book”.

Most people are given it when their baby is born. If you don’t know where yours is don’t worry, make contact with your GP team and ask to know which vaccinations your child has received in the practice.

My child has missed their jabs – is it too late?

It’s never too late to catch up on these important vaccinations – you can still ask your GP surgery for the MMR vaccine if your child has missed either of these two doses.

For more information on the MMR vaccine please visit MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine – NHS (

Why do we vaccinate?

After clean water, vaccination is the most effective public health intervention. Vaccines protect you and your child from many serious and potentially deadly diseases. They undergo rigorous safety testing before being introduced and they’re also constantly monitored for side effects after being introduced.

All medicines and vaccines in use in the UK have been approved by the UK’s independent regulator. Thanks to vaccines, some diseases that used to kill or disable millions of people are seen very rarely. However, if people stop having vaccines, it’s possible for infectious diseases to quickly spread again.

My child is not registered with a GP - can they still have their vaccinations?

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

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.