Vaccines work by making us produce antibodies to fight disease without actually infecting us with the disease. 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.
Here's a checklist of the vaccines that are routinely offered to everyone in the UK free of charge on the NHS and the ages at which they should ideally be given.
If you're not sure whether you or your child have had all your routine vaccinations, ask your GP or practice nurse to find out for you. It may be possible to catch up later in life.
Try to have your vaccinations delivered on time to ensure protection. If you're not going to be able to get to the GP surgery when a vaccination is due, talk to your doctor, as it may be possible to arrange to have the vaccination at a different location.
Find out more about childhood vaccinations and view a childhood vaccines timeline