The 5-in-1 jab, known as DTaP/IPV/Hib, is part of the routine childhood immunisation programme. These vaccinations are provided free of charge for all children in the UK. Parents and guardians are advised when and where to take their child for the injections and it is the responsibility of the parent or guardian to make sure that their child has all necessary immunisations. The 5-in-1 jab is injected into the baby’s thigh.

What does the 5-in-1 jab protect against?

The 5-in-1 jab protects against five different illnesses. These include:

  • Diphtheria (D): a bacterial infection that can be fatal.
  • Tetanus (T): a bacterial infection that causes breathing difficulties and muscle pain; it can be fatal.
  • Pertussis (commonly known as whooping cough) (aP): a disease that causes persistent coughing and breathing difficulties.
  • Polio (IPV): a viral infection that attacks the nervous system and can cause paralysis.
  • Hib (Haemophilus influenzae type B): Hib bacteria can cause a number of different illnesses, including meningitis.

When is the 5-in-1 jab given?

The 5-in-1 jab is the first vaccine to be given to babies. It is given at the period of 2 months, 3 months and 4 months old, with the immunisation given in three separate doses to ensure that children develop robust immunity to the diseases. It is advisable to stick to the recommended ages for vaccinations but it is never too late to have your child immunised. If your child has not had the right vaccinations, contact your GP.

Is the vaccine suitable for everyone?

The 5-in-1 jab is very safe and effective and it is recommended for the vast majority of babies. There are only a small number of babies who should not have the vaccine. This includes babies who have previously suffered a severe allergic reaction to the vaccine (known as anaphylactic shock) or components of the vaccine, if a child has a severe illness at the time they should be given the vaccine (this does not include coughs and colds) and if a baby has a history of fitting or has suffered a fit within the last 72 hours.

Are there any side-effects?

The 5-in-1 jab is very safe and the benefits will outweigh the risks. However, it is common to develop mild side-effects after the injection, including:

  • Pain and inflammation at the site of the injection.
  • Crying more than usual and becoming clingy.
  • Having a slightly raised temperature.
  • Diarrhoea.
  • Vomiting.
  • Eating less than normal.

Rare side-effects include:

  • Fits (known as febrile convulsions).
  • Becoming floppy.

In very rare cases (less than 1 in 10,000) babies can develop a very high temperature (over 40.5 degrees) and a high pitched cry. If your baby has a very high temperature or they start fitting, seek urgent medical help. Allergies to vaccinations are very rare but if your child does have anaphylactic shock after an injection, staff are trained to deal with this and will act quickly. Children recover fully after treatment for anaphylactic shock.

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