The World Health Organisation says: “The two public health interventions that have had the greatest impact on the world’s health are clean water and vaccines.”
Here in the UK, we are extremely fortunate that the NHS provides a highly-regarded, carefully-monitored and well-researched vaccine programme to immunise us against serious diseases that once used to kill many people. You will have already been vaccinated against some serious diseases (including Diphtheria, Measles, Mumps, Rubella, Whooping Cough and Polio) when you were younger, but there are three more vaccines you will need to have during your teenage years.
- HPV vaccine (age 12–13)
This will protect you against the human papilloma virus and protects against cervical cancer. You will have it in year 8 at school – two injections, given 6–24 months apart, in your upper arm.
- 3-in-1 teenage booster (age 14)
This vaccine boosts your protection against Diphtheria, Tetanus and Polio. It is a single injection in your upper arm given in year 9 at school.
- Men ACWY vaccine (age 14+)
This is a new but very important vaccine that protects against four different causes of meningitis and septicaemia – meningococcal (Men) A, C, W and Y diseases. You are most at risk from meningitis when you leave home and start sharing accommodation with people who are not your family, so it is important to have this vaccine before you leave home. If it is not currently given to you at your school, ask for it from your GP before you leave home. You can have it any time from aged 14. Eventually it is hoped it will be given to all school children, just like the HPV vaccine is given to all girls, in year 9.
You will be given a consent form beforehand with more information for your parent/carer to sign.
Protection from disease when travelling
You may also need vaccinations to protect you from serious diseases, such as Cholera and Yellow Fever, if you are travelling to some countries outside the UK. Not all of these are free on the NHS and you may have to pay a small fee. You can find out more here.