General vaccine safety and science

Parents may have concerns about vaccinating their child. Decisions about vaccination should be the result of careful assessment of the risks and benefits of each course of action. In the case of all the vaccines used in the current UK routine schedule, refusing vaccination leads to a higher risk of harm than vaccinating does.

You can find information on the specific risks of individual vaccines and the diseases they give protection against by clicking on the links of the interactive vaccine schedule. Below, you will find general information on vaccine safety. Or click on these links for information on:

It is rarely necessary to delay immunisation, even if a child is not well. For example, the following situations do NOT require vaccination to be delayed:

  • mild self-limiting illness without fever, e.g. runny nose
  • asthma, eczema or hay fever
  • treatment with antibiotics or locally acting (e.g. topical or inhaled) steroids
  • contact with an infectious disease
  • personal history of febrile convulsions (fits) or epilepsy
  • premature birth (see more info on vaccines and premature babies)
  • being under a certain weight
  • family history of any adverse reactions following immunisation

If an individual is very unwell with a high temperature, immunisation may be postponed until they have fully recovered. This is to avoid new symptoms or the progression of symptoms being confused with a reaction to the vaccine.

The vast majority of people can safely be given vaccines. People with certain rare medical conditions may be referred by their GP to a consultant paediatrician or immunologist for expert individual advice. More information on special considerations for those with underlying medical conditions can be found in Chapters 6 and 7 of the Green Book , the Department of Health's document on immunisation against infectious disease.

Page last updated: 
Monday, October 12, 2015