Don’t be afraid of vaccinating, especially in view of the benefits vaccines bring…

Vaccinate – your fears allayed

Don’t be afraid of vaccinating, especially in view of the benefits vaccines bring, says Dr Robert Arlt

Apart from washing our hands, vaccinations are the only effective mean of preventing infectious diseases. Vaccinating most of the population against specific diseases helps eradicate them.
Of course, everything we do – eating and drinking, playing ball, crossing a street. – comes with some amount of risk. The same applies to vaccines, but how big is the risk really? For this article, I will restrict myself to talking about childhood routine vaccines in SA and in the European Union. Here the only live vaccines are against measles, mumps rubella, rotavirus and chicken pox: as the viruses they contain are very much weakened they will never harm children with a working immune system.

Concerns about Autism

Although a presumed link to Autism was never proved, in the United States, countries in the European Union and a few other affluent countries, thiomersal, a mercury-based preservative, is no longer used in routine childhood vaccination schedules.

Concerns about Aluminium

Many vaccines contain aluminium salts. They act as adjuvants, strengthening and lengthening the immune response to the vaccine. The vaccines we use nowadays contain very minimal amounts of aluminium, and recent studies did not show more aluminium salts in children who had been vaccinated than in children who had not. The view of most experts is that there is currently no convincing evidence that exposure to everyday levels of aluminium in any form increases the risks of Alzheimer’s disease, genetic damage or cancer. Aluminium is the most common metal in the earth’s crust and we are exposed to it all the time. It reacts with other elements to form aluminium salts, and small amounts of these are found naturally in almost all foods and drinking water, as well as in breast milk and in formula milk for babies. Aluminium salts are used as food additives (for example in bread and cakes) and in drugs such as antacids. It is widely used in food packaging. Aluminium is not used by the body. Any aluminium absorbed from food or other sources is gradually eliminated through the kidneys. Babies are born with aluminium already present in their bodies, probably from the mother’s blood.

Concerns about Diabetes

Whether vaccines can provide a “stimulus” triggering some dormant condition is a hot topic particularly regarding development of Type One Diabetes. Recently, an Australian study suggested that the live rotavirus vaccine since it was regularly given to babies there came along with a decrease in the number of cases of Type One Diabetes there.


The benefits of vaccinations outweigh the fears and concerns, so don’t be afraid of vaccinating!

EXTRA: Dr Robert Arlt is a private Consultant Paediatrician at Roseneath Medical Practice. He has a special interest in allergology and is very experienced in paediatric ultrasound.


Timely immunisation

A number of illnesses can be prevented by
timely immunisation.

Learn about illness prevention, by our Doctors in Richmond

gp in richmond; private gp

Which vaccines should you have for Autumn?
– Flu – did you know that even if you had the flu vaccine last year, you will need another one this year? People are always at risk of getting flu because the strains are always changing. The vaccine can be administered in the form of injection for adults or nasal spray for young or high risk children.
– Meningococcal B and ACWY vaccine – Meningitis remains a serious threat to children, teenagers and young adults, especially in the winter months. It is fatal in one in 10 cases.
– Measles – Did you know that this is the third most common vaccine-preventable cause of death among children throughout the world? It is one of the most infectious diseases in humans.
– Whooping cough – This is a highly infectious bacterial infection, which can be very serious for babies under one year. It is important to have this vaccine in the third trimester of every pregnancy.
– Chickenpox – This vaccine is not part of the routine childhood immunisation schedule in UK. The vaccine prevents the likelihood of serious chickenpox and lessens the chance of scarring.
And the good news?
The benefits of all the vaccines mentioned far outweigh the risk of side effects, which all tend to be mild.
At Roseneath Medical Practice we have stock of all the vaccines. We want you to stay well and healthy over autumn, and offer appointments seven days a week.

Navigating the vaccine labyrinth

By Dr Aranzazu Rodriguez-Guerrero (MD, PhD)

A vaccine is a biological preparation used to stimulate our immune system to generate antibodies, in order to protect us against potentially serious diseases.

The current UK national immunisation schedule indicates what vaccinations your child should have and when:

2 Months

  • Diptheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), polio and Hib                                                 (DTaP/IPV/Hib)
  • Pneumococcal (PCV)
  • Meningococcal B (Men B)
  • Rotavirus

3 Months

  • Diptheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio and Hib (DTaP/IPV/Hib)
  • Meningococcal C (Men C)
  • Rotavirus

4 Months

  • Diptheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), polio and Hib                                                                 (DTaP/IPV/Hib)
  • Pneumococcal (PCV)
  • Meningococcal B (Men B)

12 Months

  • Hib/Men C booster
  • Measles, mumps and rubella (MMR)

2 to 6 Years

  • Influenza (flu)

3 Years 4 Months

  • Diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis and polio booster
  • Measles, mumps and rubella (MMR)

Girl 12 to 13 Years

  • Human Papillomavirus (HPV)

14 Years and University

  • Diphtheria, tetanus and polio booster
  • Meningococcal ACWY conjugate (Men ACWY)

Thankfully, because of the national schedule, the majority of children in the UK are protected against many diseases.  You will be able to confirm whether your child has received the appropriate vaccinations according to their age by checking their red book. If for any reason, you or your child has missed any vaccines, it is important they become immunised, and this can be done privately.

Many of the immunisations on the national schedule are also recommended for other age groups, and other immunisations not on the schedule are also recommended. These can be accessed in private practices.


This can be administered to children and adults to prevent chickenpox and any possible complications. It is especially recommended for healthcare workers or someone who has an illness or has a weakened immune system.

HPV (human papillomavirus)

Helps to prevent cervical cancer and genital warts. Currently only available on the national schedule for girls aged 12 to 13 years but could benefit all women.

MMR (measles, mumps, rubella)

Recommended for women planning a future pregnancy. Rubella can result in serious consequences to an unborn child.


Recommended regardless of any prior episode of shingles.

Pneumococcal Vaccine

Helps prevent some pneumonia, septicaemia (infection of the bloodstream), and possibly meningitis.


There is a new Meningitis B vaccine, recommended especially for children up to the age of 5 years. There is also a meningococcal conjugate recommended for adults of all ages.

Hepatitis B and hepatitis A

These are specially recommended for healthcare workers, people with diabetes, and sexually active persons but also any person seeking protection, especially if you travel.


Helps to prevent annual flu. Currently only available on schedule for children, elderly and certain groups but annual vaccination against influenza is recommended for all persons aged 6 months or older.

Booster of Diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough)

Recommended every 10 years.


During pregnancy you can and should be vaccinated against influenza and whooping cough. Ask your GP about other vaccines. Some can be given, but you should not be vaccinated with live vaccines, such as chicken pox, shingles and MMR.

 Travel Vaccines

If you’re travelling abroad, find out what you may require for your trip at If vaccinations are recommended, visit a GP early as some of the vaccines are required well in advance.

Are you Well Vaccinated?

Check your child’s and your own red book and ensure all those vaccines listed in the table have been administered. If any vaccines are missing, or you would like to receive any of the vaccines outside of the national schedule, discuss with a GP.

Dr Aranzazu Rodriguez-Guerrero (MD, PhD) is a Private General Practitioner at Roseneath Medical Practice in Richmond. She completed her specialization in Family and Community Medicine and regularly publishes medical articles for international medical conferences.


immunisation schedule

Published in the May/June edition of Families Upon Thames.