Pregnancy and baby immunisations

Immunisation is the safest and most effective way of protecting pregnant women and their babies against serious diseases.

Immunisation during pregnancy can help prevent disease, or make illness less serious, as antibodies developed are passed to the unborn baby helping to protect them in their first few weeks of life.

When babies reach 8 weeks of age they can start the routine immunisation schedule at the recommended times. These will help protect them through early childhood against diseases such as diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, polio, measles, mumps, rubella, and some of the main causes of meningitis and septicaemia.

  • Pregnant women are offered the flu vaccine (every time they are pregnant from October to March) and whooping cough vaccine (from 16 weeks of pregnancy onwards every time they are pregnant). More information can be viewed on the pregnancy timeline on NHS inform.
  • Babies’ routine immunisation schedule starts at 8 weeks.
  • In the 1940s, before the vaccine was introduced in the UK, diphtheria was common and caused lots of deaths. Since the introduction of the vaccine, cases are now extremely rare.
  • Before 2013, when the rotavirus vaccine was introduced, around 1200 babies in Scotland had to go to hospital every year with rotavirus. Since then, the number of cases in babies is much smaller, and fewer have to go to hospital.
  • The immunisations offered at 8 weeks are DTaP/IPV/Hib/HepB, Pneumococcal, Rotavirus and MenB.
  • The immunisations offered at 12 weeks are DTaP/IPV/Hib/HepB and Rotavirus.
  • The immunisations offered at 16 weeks are DTaP/IPV/Hib/HepB, Pneumococcal and MenB.
  • The immunisation offered between 12 and 13 months are Hib/MenC, MMR, Pneumococcal and MenB.
  • Babies who are at risk of HepB and BCG may get immunised early.
  • Babies who are more likely to come into contact with someone with tuberculosis (TB) are offered the BCG vaccine.
  • Babies whose mother is infected with HepB, or a close family member has been infected with HepB, are offered the HepB vaccine.

Pregnancy and baby immunisations and health inequalities

Uptake of immunisation amongst pregnant mothers and babies in Scotland is generally high, however rates are lower in more deprived areas.

  • Children in more deprived areas were more likely to receive their MMR vaccination later than children in the least deprived areas.
  • 90.1% of children had received their first dose of MMR by 15 months of age in the least deprived areas compared to 83.3% in the most deprived areas.
  • In 2016/2017, the rates of completed courses of the five-in-one, PCV and MenB vaccines by 12 months were slightly lower in the most deprived areas compared to the least deprived areas of Scotland.

Local and national actions

Information for the public

All our public information is available in English, Urdu, Chinese and Polish, and Easy Read. We are happy to consider requests for other languages and formats and such requests can be emailed to nhs.healthscotland-alternativeformats@nhs.net.

Information for the public is available on NHS inform (external site). The Scottish Immunisation Programme is also supported by the NHS inform helpline (external site).

NHS Health Scotland works with key stakeholders who conduct research on barriers to accessing immunisations in deprived areas and among certain ethnic minority groups. This research informs how we develop our public facing information on immunisations. 

Babies 0-13 months

Immunisations at 2, 3 and 4 months of age.

The DTaP/IPV/Hib/HepB vaccine

The DTaP/IPV/Hib/HepB vaccine, also commonly known as the 6-in-1 vaccine, is usually given to babies at two, three and four months of age. It protects against Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis (whooping cough), polio (with Inactivated Polio Vaccine) and Haemophilus influenzae type b and hepatitis B. Children should also have a Hib booster (in combination with MenC) between 12 and 13 months of age, boosters against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis and polio from 3 years 4 months of age.

The pneumococcal vaccine

The pneumococcal vaccine is given to babies at 4 and 8 weeks of age with a booster dose given between 12 and 13 months. The vaccine can be given at any time and one injection provides years of protection. The pneumococcal booster dose between 12 and 13 months is usually given at the same time as the Hib/MenC, MMR, and MenB vaccines. See Immunisations between 12 and 13 months of age below.

The MenB vaccine

The MenB vaccine helps protect against meningitis and septicaemia (blood poisoning) caused by group of meningococcal bacteria B. The MenB vaccine is routinely offered, since September 2015, to all babies at 8, 16 weeks and 12 to 13 months.

The rotavirus vaccine

The rotavirus vaccine, which is given to babies at 8 and 12 weeks of age, helping protect them against rotavirus.

Babies 12 - 13 months

The Hib/MenC vaccine

The Hib/MenC vaccine helps protect babies against two of the causes of meningitis and septicaemia. Babies will need a dose of the combined Hib/MenC vaccine between 12 and 13 months of age to boost their protection against Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) and helps protect against meningococcal C (MenC) infections.

The MMR vaccine

The MMR vaccine is given is offered in two doses. The first is when the child is at 12-13 months, and then at 3 years and 4 months of age. The vaccine is the safest and most effective way to help protect children against measles, mumps and rubella. Teenagers who haven’t had two doses of the vaccine may also be offered the vaccine during their routine teenage immunisation at school. (see below Children from 3 years 4 months old). Although normally given at these times, if it is missed it can be given at any age.

The pneumococcal vaccine

The pneumococcal vaccine (see Immunisations for babies between 0-13 months of age)

Non-routine immunisations for babies

The BCG vaccine

The BCG vaccine is usually offered to babies who are more likely to come into contact with someone with Tuberculosis.

The Hepatitis B vaccine

The Hepatitis B vaccine is offered to all babies whose mothers or close family have been infected with hepatitis B. Further information can be found at the Department of Health immunisation (external site).

Immunisations offered from 3 years and 4 months

MMR vaccine

MMR vaccine (see Immunisations for babies between 12 and 13 months of age).

The DTaP/IPV vaccine

The DTaP/IPV (or dTaP/IPV) vaccine, also known as the 4-in-1 vaccine, helps protect children against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), polio.