Screening and immunisation
A key way to keep healthy both now and into the future is to ensure you take up the offer of all the screening and immunisation programmes that are available.
What is screening?
If you are found to be at risk of a particular illness then a screening programme can mean you get the right information at the right time, as well as further tests and appropriate treatment to reduce risk and/or any complications.
Where and when?
You can access screening programmes for a range of illnesses and conditions. These include breast cancer, bowel cancer and abdominal aortic aneurysm (a weakening and expansion of the aorta, the main blood vessel in the body). There is also a range of screening programmes aimed at newborns and young children. More information about some of these screening programmes and the age groups they are offered to is available on the NHS screening timeline page. If you are in any doubt about which screening programmes you should be accessing then just talk to your GP.
What is immunisation?
The main killer diseases of previous centuries have now been all but wiped out thanks to the miracle of vaccination.
Vaccines work by stimulating the immune system to produce antibodies (substances produced by the body to fight disease) without actually infecting the person with the disease.
Vaccines trigger the immune system to produce its own antibodies against disease, as though the body has been infected with it. This is called "active immunity". If the vaccinated person then comes into contact with the disease itself, their immune system will recognise it and immediately produce the antibodies they need to fight it.
Please ensure that you and your family take up your immunisation offers as they help protect you and the wider community you live in from infections. Vaccination schedule
MMR is a combined vaccine that protects against measles, mumps and rubella (German measles).
Measles, mumps and rubella are very common, highly infectious, conditions that can have serious, potentially fatal, complications including meningitis, swelling of the brain (encephalitis) and deafness.
They can also lead to complications in pregnancy that affect the unborn baby and can lead to miscarriage.
Since the MMR vaccine was introduced in 1988, it's rare for children in the UK to develop these serious conditions. However, outbreaks happen and cases of measles in particular have been rising in recent years so it's important to make sure your children are up-to-date with their MMR vaccination. Your General Practitioner will be able to answer any of your questions. MMR catch up programme
Flu vaccination is available every year on the NHS to protect people at risk of flu and its complications.
It is particularly important for people in the following groups to get their flu jab:
- pregnant women
- children aged two, three and four years old
- people aged 65 and over
- children and adults from 6 months to 64 years old with health conditions such as heart problems, chest complaints, breathing difficulties, lowered immunity due to disease or medical treatment, kidney or liver disease, and diabetes
- everyone living in a residential or nursing home
- the main care of an older or disabled person
If you are in one of these high risk groups, you are more likely to develop potentially serious complications of flu. Flu jabs for people in high risk groups are available free on the NHS.
Contact your General Practitioner to arrange an appointment to have a flu jab. For more information about flu and the flu vaccine, go to the NHS Choices website.