Immunisation made easy

The idea of childhood vaccines is that they protect your baby from potentially serious illnesses at the start of his life. With the most common concerns in mind, we explore the often-navigated waters of baby vaccinations.

When the Public Health Nurse visits your home they will give you a booklet Your Child’s Immunisation – A Guide for Parents. Please read this booklet carefully and keep it safe. It contains lots of information about the immunisations your baby will be offered over the next 13 months. In the back pocket of this booklet there is a magnet with the immunisation schedule. You can put this somewhere visible to remind you about the vaccines your baby needs. There is also an immunisation passport in the back pocket. You bring this passport with you to each visit and the practice nurse will write down the vaccines your baby has received. Please keep this immunisation passport in a safe place and bring it to all appointments so it can be filled in and kept up to date.

What happens next?

  • At your baby’s 6 week check you will be given a leaflet with more information about your baby’s immunisations.
  • The HSE will write and ask you to arrange to visit your GP (doctor) for the first of your five visits. If you do not hear from the HSE, you should arrange to visit your GP (doctor) when your baby is two months old.

To provide the best protection for your baby it is important that they get all their vaccines on time.

Immunisation made easy

Can I give my baby anything before they are vaccinated?

You can give your baby milk a few minutes before their vaccination. This can help to reduce pain at the injection site.

Do not give infant paracetamol to your baby before you go to your GP (doctor) surgery.

What happens before immunisation?

Before your baby is immunised, the doctor or practice nurse will check with you that your baby is well and able to get the vaccines. If you have any worries or questions about your baby’s immunisations, ask the doctor or practice nurse before your baby is immunised. There are very few reasons why your baby should not get a vaccine.

  • Your baby may have a sore leg or fever after they get their vaccine.
  • The MenB vaccine given at 2 and 4 months may give your baby a high fever.
  • We recommend you give your baby 3 doses of liquid infant paracetamol 2.5 mls (60 mg). This will reduce the fever.
  • You do not need to give infant paracetamol routinely at or just after their 6, 12 and 13 month vaccines. But, if your baby is distressed or has a high fever you can give them plenty of fluids and infant paracetamol or infant ibuprofen.
  • You can feed your baby at any time after their vaccines including after the rotavirus oral vaccine.

If you are worried about your baby, please contact your GP (doctor), practice nurse or public health nurse for further advice.

Where can I find out more information?

  • the booklet “Your Child’s Immunisation – A Guide for Parents”
  • the leaflet given at your baby’s 6 week check
  • the leaflet given after your baby’s immunisation
  • online from our website

Where can I find out more information about the vaccines used?

This information can be found in the patient information leaflet (PIL) and the Summary of Product Characteristics (SmPC). It is also available on the following websites


You need to know the name of the vaccines to search these websites. The product names of each vaccine are available on our website

immunisation made easy

What common reactions can my child get after being vaccinated and what should I do?

Common reaction What to do
At 2 and 4 months (Visits 1 and 2)
A fever is common after MenB vaccine Give liquid infant paracetamol

1. Give 2.5 mls (60mg) at the time of the immunisation or shortly after.

2. Give a second dose of 2.5 mls (60 mg) 4-6 hours after the first dose.

3. Give a third dose of 2.5 mls (60 mg) 4-6 hours after second dose.

4. Give a fourth dose 4-6 hours after the third dose if your baby still has a fever.

Soreness, swelling and redness in the area where the injection was given Make sure clothes are not too tight or rubbing against the area where the injection was given.
Mild diarrhoea after the rotavirus vaccine Give extra milk to drink

Wash your hands carefully after changing and disposing of your baby’s nappy.

At 6, 12 and 13 months (Visits 3, 4 and 5)
Soreness, swelling and redness in the area where the injection was given Give liquid infant paracetamol or infant ibuprofen to relieve aches and pains

Make sure clothes are not too tight or rubbing against the area where the injection was given


Fever (over 39° C) Do not overdress your baby

Make sure their room isn’t too hot

Give extra fluids to drink

Give liquid infant paracetamol or infant ibuprofen to lower the fever

Headache or irritability Give liquid infant paracetamol or infant ibuprofen to relieve aches and pains.

Immunisation made easy

Dr Brenda Corcoran, Specialist in Public Health Medicine, has this advice on the common concerns that parents have about vaccines.

Vaccines are given at an early age because young babies are most vulnerable to these diseases and need to be protected as early as possible. For example, babies younger than 6 months are at the highest risk for serious complications of whooping cough (6 out of 10 need to go into hospital, and 9 out of 10 deaths from whooping cough are in this age group). The MMR vaccine is not usually recommended for children under 12 months unless they are going to a country with a measles outbreak because it may not work properly.

Some parents worry that giving several vaccines at once will overload their child’s immune system or that the vaccines may not work properly. However, there is nothing to worry about as your child’s immune system can easily cope with vaccines. Studies have shown that vaccines are just as safe and just as effective when they are given together as when they are given separately.

A number of injections are needed to give your child the fullest possible protection, so it is important to complete the course. The ages at which vaccines are recommended are chosen to give your child the earliest and best protection against disease. So make sure your child is vaccinated on time every time.

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Ask Sarah

Q I’ve heard a lot about the Paleo diet and as I am very interested in reducing the amount of processed foods and grain based meals my family eats, we are considering following this diet. From what I read it seems to be a back-to-basics type of eating. Is a Paleo diet safe for children? My kids are aged seven and nine.

A The Paleo diet is one of the most fashionable diets around at the moment. It is also known as the ‘caveman diet’ and is based on cutting out processed foods, starchy foods like bread and potatoes and eating more meat, vegetables and fruit.
As fad diets go, it is not the worst but there are some good and bad sides to it. Reducing the amount of processed foods we eat is always a good idea and by doing that you will usually reduce the amount of fat, salt and sugar you eat, which is a good thing! The problem with the Paleo diet is that it also cuts out dairy (on the basis that cavemen didn’t drink milk) and this means that the diet is very low in calcium. For this reason it is really not suitable for children who do need a lot of calcium for growing bones. How did cavemen manage without dairy? They ate a lot more food than we do (up to 10,000 calories per day compared to the 2,000 most of us eat). By eating that amount of food they were able to pick up just enough calcium from green vegetables and seeds. To put it in perspective, you would need to eat 16 servings of broccoli a day to get all the calcium you need. This is easier to do if you eat 10,000 calories per day rather than 2,000.
The other problem with the paleo diet is that it is not entirely based in science. Many of the Paleo diets out there say you should not eat wheat, even though we know that cavemen did in fact eat wheat and other grains. These diets also don’t recommend that you eat blubber and the big lumps of fat that were also a large part of the caveman diet!
A final problem is that many Paleo diets encourage people to cut out beans and lentils and to get their protein from meat and fish instead. Many studies over the last few years are clear that eating too much animal protein is linked with more cancer and heart disease. Eating some vegetarian meals based on beans and lentils is a great way to get your protein without always going for meat.
Is this a diet we should follow? I think there is a lot we can learn from the Paleo diets. We could all do with eating less salt, sugar and processed foods and adding in more nuts and seeds as well as more vegetables. However, I think following a strict Paleo diet could lead to low levels of calcium and vitamin D and so it is not suitable for children or teens and adults would need to think about a calcium supplement.



Q My son is 18 months old and has just started saying his first words. It is an extremely exciting time in our house and my husband and I are eager to encourage his speaking as much possible. What advice would you give us on how we can foster this without bombarding and confusing him?

AThere is nothing better than hearing your baby begin to talk. All the hard work you have put in over the last two years is coming back tenfold.
Toddlers will vary significantly with ability and speed of which they talk however a guide would be about 50 words by 2 years of age. The most important thing to watch for is that your baby/toddler is cooing and babbling and begins to string sounds together like “Mama/Dada” They should have a wide range of speech sounds and like to imitate you and things they hear.
There are many ways that you can promote Speech and Language development at home:
1. Slowing down your own speech and taking time over conversations with your little one. Every day is a new experience when you are 18 months, nappy changes, bath time, baking a cake brings endless opportunity for you to interact and offer new words for them to hear and repeat. Make eye contact, smile and use exaggerated tones to keep things interesting and fun for your tot.
2. Review the toys that you have on offer to your tot and ensure that they give plenty of open ended play opportunities. Role play is a wonderful way to allow children to take the lead. Kitchens with lots of plates, cups and pots. Fill the pots with dry pasta and allow your child to cook and serve you. Playdoh, painting, gardening and sandpits are also great for allowing your child to take the lead and babble about what they are doing. Read plenty of books together and point and allow them time to answer any questions that you ask.
3. Limit screen time. Overuse of televisions and iPads do not give your child opportunity to interact in a two way manner.
4. Ask your child lots of open ended questions “What’s that?” “Where are we?” Point at things they know the answer to for boosting confidence (Car/ Car, etc.) When they don’t know the answer, explain it to them. Limit baby talk and speak clearly with good pronunciation, remember you are the teacher and they will copy you.
If you are concerned about your child’s speech and language development, be sure to speak with your GP or developmental Health Nurse. They are very skilled at understanding the difference between speech delays and spotting something that may require professional attention.
Enjoy watching their little brains absorb the world around them and listen to what they have to say. It won’t be too long before they won’t stop talking to you, asking “Why Mummy/ Daddy?” every 5 minutes….