What if your child is NOT vaccinated?

Gary Finnegan

Gary Finnegan

April 15th, 2021

Gary Finnegan

‘Most children are protected from diseases such as measles and pertussis – but parents who opt out need to know the implications of their decision’

Why should I get my kids vaccinated? It’s one of the questions we are most commonly asked.

The vast majority of kids have all their vaccines on time, every time. They follow the vaccine schedule developed by experts in their country and recommenced by their doctor.

But what about those who do not?

If parents choose to delay some vaccines or even to refuse some vaccines entirely, there can be risks.

The World Health Organisation’s regional office for Europe has put together a short explanation of the risks associated with opting out of vaccination. It includes advice on how to minimise the risk for unvaccinated children and others – such as those who are too young or too sick to be vaccinated.

Read: The choice not to vaccinate doesn’t only affect you!

Tell health professionals

The document makes clear that by deciding to delay or refuse vaccines, parents are taking on “an important responsibility that could put their children’s health and even life at risk”.

Any time an unvaccinated child is sick, in an ambulance, visits a hospital or clinic, parents must tell medical staff that the child has not received all the vaccines recommended for their age.

This is essential as health staff may under-estimate the risk of certain decisions if they presume that the child is up to date with their immunisations. It also allows hospitals to take precautions to protect others from infectious diseases.

Better late than never?

If an outbreak of a vaccine-preventable diseases occurs, it may not be too late to have the child vaccinated. The child’s doctor will be able to advise. However, some vaccines take time to become effective so it is, of course, best to have the vaccines on time so that the child is protected in the event of an outbreak.

WHO Europe is not the only organisation to take this approach. Experts in Australia have also developed material to help parents make decisions about vaccines.

Try this MMR decision aid that walks you through the consequences of vaccinating and not vaccinating against measles, mumps and rubella.

In the above video, Julie Leask of the University of Sydney, explains how this kind of simple non-judgemental tool can help parents make informed decisions – whatever that decision might be.

Dr Leask has also developed material to help health professionals engage with parents who are, to varying degrees, hesitant about vaccination.

If you have hesitations about the immunisation programme, ask your doctor. And if you decide to decline vaccines on behalf of your child, be sure you are aware of the implications.


  1. ruth rawana

    ruth rawana

    May 22nd, 2019

    child is 3years and 3 months came from Romania and has never been vaccinated how do I start

    • Gary Finnegan

      Gary Finnegan

      May 23rd, 2019

      There is a tool for comparing national immunisation schedules on the ECDC website https://vaccine-schedule.ecdc.europa.eu/
      This is helpful if a child is partially vaccinated according to one schedule and you need to reconcile this with your own national schedule.
      For a child who has not been vaccinated at all, it’s a bit trickier. Ordinarily I’d note that we can’t give specific advice but let me see if I can find out who you should ask.

      • Gary Finnegan

        Gary Finnegan

        May 23rd, 2019

        Dear Ruth,
        I presume you are in the UK based on your email address. If you are in England, you might consider this document on dealing with individuals with uncertain or incomplete vaccine status.
        I also checked, informally, with someone in the NHS who said the best course of action would be to contact the Immunisation Lead in your local area. There is a list here
        Hope that helps,

  2. Andreea


    September 11th, 2021

    Hello! My daughter it’s late with the immunization vaccine, she just finish with them last month so she was 11 months. This month she will have 1year vaccination and my concern about this it’s if is that safe for her because there it’s not a minimum interval between the vaccination. Like she supposed to have done the immunization at 12weeks so until 1 year vaccin it’s an interval of 6 months. I will appreciate your advice.

  3. Miss Caroline Tate

    Miss Caroline Tate

    October 2nd, 2021

    I have 3 children. Twin boys are 13 and my daughter is 15 and all three do not want the covid jab. Please help