Browse the frequently asked questions below

About the London programme

Check your child’s red book. If you have lost it or don’t have one, check with your GP surgery.

It’s important that vaccines are given on time for the best protection, but it’s never too late. If you or your child missed a vaccine, contact your GP to catch up.

We are not offering vaccination through secondary schools as part of this programme. However, children or adults of any age who have missed a vaccination should contact their GP surgery.

If your child has missed a vaccination, the NHS will contact you throughout 2023 to offer a vaccination through their school or a community venue. If you don’t want to wait, please contact your GP surgery.

If your child has missed a vaccination, the NHS may call you, if we have a phone number for you, or we may send you a letter through your child’s school.

While childhood vaccinations are always available through your GP, we are offering additional opportunities in convenient locations such as schools and community venues for children who are behind on their vaccinations.

The NHS will contact parents of children who need a catch up dose throughout 2023 to talk you through the options near you. However, if you don’t want to wait, you can always contact your GP surgery.

Vaccinations will be delivered by school immunisation teams – registered healthcare professionals with specific training and experience in vaccinating children.

In 2022, we found polio virus in sewage samples in London, suggesting that the virus was spreading between people. Therefore, the NHS in London responded with an emergency immunisation programme, contacting parents of children not up to date with their polio vaccinations and offering an additional ‘booster’ dose of polio vaccine to those fully vaccinated.

While the programme was successful in giving booster doses to around 345,000 children by the end of December 2022, there are still many children in London that remain un-vaccinated or are missing vital doses, leaving them vulnerable to diseases. That’s why we are now focusing on children who are not up to date and offering them an extra opportunity to get vaccinated through schools and community venues.

No paralytic polio cases have been reported in patients in England. However, there is still a risk that the virus could cause paralysis in an unvaccinated individual, as seen in the US last year and, more recently, in Israel.

About the conditions

Polio is an infection caused by a virus that attacks the nervous system – it can cause permanent paralysis of muscles. Find out more about polio and polio vaccination.

Measles is a very infectious viral illness that is spread by coughs and sneezes.

Mumps is a viral illness that is spread by coughs and sneezes or close contact with someone who already has the infection.

Rubella is a viral illness, often called German measles, that is now rare in the UK thanks to the success of the MMR vaccine. It is spread in a similar way to mumps and measles. If pregnant women develop rubella it can be very serious for their unborn baby.

About the vaccines


We are using three different types of vaccines that all provide excellent protection against polio and MMR– they are already used in the routine programme and safely given to millions of children each year.

The only difference between the three polio vaccines is the other infections that they protect against. They all provide protection against polio, tetanus and diphtheria, but some may also top up protection against whooping cough and hepatitis B. It does not matter which of the three vaccines your child gets, unless they have missed out on some earlier vaccines.

The vaccine(s) you will be offered will be the right one for your child’s stage in their vaccination schedule.


The MMR vaccine is a single injection that is administered into the thigh of young children or the upper arm of older children or adults. It is a live vaccine which means that it contains weakened versions of measles, mumps and rubella viruses. These have been weakened enough to produce immunity without causing disease.

The MMR vaccine gives long lasting protection with just two doses of the vaccine. The first dose is given at the age of 12 months and the second dose is given at around 3 years and 4 months, before starting school. Having both doses gives long lasting protection against measles, mumps and rubella. In adults and older children the two doses can be given with a one month gap between them.

The vaccine(s) you will be offered will be the right one for your child’s stage in their vaccination schedule.

You can read general information about vaccine ingredients on the website.

Alternatively, you can read the product information leaflets (PIL) for more details on your vaccine:

There are very few reasons why children cannot receive the polio or MMR vaccine. If your child had a serious allergic reaction to a previous vaccination or to certain uncommon antibiotics (neomycin, polymyxin or streptomycin) you may want to check with your doctor.

Your child may have some redness, swelling or tenderness in the arm where they had the injection, this will usually disappear in a few days. Rarely, a hard lump may appear in the same place but this will also resolve on its own, usually over a few weeks.

Occasionally, children may be unwell and irritable and develop a temperature and a headache.

You can also report suspected side effects of vaccines and medicines:

No. There is no evidence of any link between the MMR vaccine and autism. The original research which suggested a link has now been discredited. Find out more.

Vaccination tips for parents

When parents are contacted to discuss vaccinations for their child they will be able to discuss attending their appointment with the immunisation service. While we would always like to support parents attending, this may not always be possible due to the size and complexity of the programme.

If you are concerned that your child is behind on their vaccinations and want to attend the appointment then you can always contact your GP to make an appointment for your child and accompany them to their vaccination.

Both GPs and school immunisation teams are experienced at vaccinating children and helping them feel at ease. Vaccination tips for parents are available on the website.

Where can I find out more?

You can read general information about vaccines on the website or read these leaflets:

Guide to immunisations for babies (leaflet)

Guide to vaccinations from 2 to 5 years (leaflet)

Guide to immunisations for young people

What if I have further questions about the vaccines?

If we have a phone number for you, the NHS will contact you by phone to offer a vaccination for your child and will answer any questions you may have. If you have questions in the meantime, please contact your GP practice.