Keeping Healthy


Vitamins are essential nutrients that your body needs in small amounts so that it can work properly.  Even though you can get lots of vitamins from a healthy balanced diet, you still might not get everything you need at certain times in your life - such as when you’re pregnant, a new mum or a small child.  In fact, Public Health England recently revised their guidance and recommend that, at these times, you should take a supplement containing specific vitamins to make sure you get everything you need.

vitamins-women.pngHealthy Start women's vitamin tablets contain:

  • Folic acid: reduces the chance of your baby having spina bifida, a birth defect where the spine doesn’t form properly
  • Vitamin C: helps maintain healthy tissue in the body
  • Vitamin D: helps your body to absorb calcium and so supports your baby’s bones to develop properly

It is recommended that all pregnant women, and mother's of breastfed babies should take these vitamin supplements - click here for a factsheet.

vitamins-children.pngHealthy Start children's vitamin drops contain:

  • Vitamin A: for growth, vision in dim light and healthy skin
  • Vitamin C: helps maintain healthy tissue in the body
  • Vitamin D: for strong bones and teeth

Healthy Start vitamins are for children from six months old, or who are having less than 500ml (one pint) of infant formula a day.  Babies under six months old who are fully breastfed might benefit from them earlier – ask your midwife or health visitor for advice.  Formula fed babies require vitamin drops after the age of one year.

Healthy Start vitamins are suitable for vegetarians and free from milk, egg, gluten, soya and peanut residues.

As a Hertfordshire Children's Centre we are able to offer the Healthy Start Vitamin Drops AND the Vitamin Tablets (for pregnant and breastfeeding women) for FREE!  Please ask staff for details.

Click here to find out if you qualify for healthy start vouchers and for other information.

Vaccinations and Immunisations

For a checklist of vaccines  that are routinely offered to everyone on the UK for free on the NHS, and the ages at which they should ideally be given, please click here.  Public Health England also provides a really useful schedule of routine immunisations.

A guide to immunisations for babies up to 13 months can be found here, and for parents of premature babies the leaflet is here.

A leaflet to remind you to get your child immunised between 12 and 13 months of age can be found here.

Details of immunisations for children between 2 and 5, before they start school, can be found here.

For a leaflet explaining who should have the flu vaccination and why, please click here.

Did you know?

‘Vaccination’ and ‘immunisation’ are often used interchangeably but their meanings are not exactly the same.

Vaccination is when a vaccine is administered to you (usually by injection).  Immunisation is what happens in your body after you have the vaccination.  The vaccine stimulates your immune system so that it can recognise the disease and protect you from future infection (i.e. you become immune to the infection).

Flu Vaccinations

As temperatures drop and the Christmas countdown is truly underway, Hertfordshire County Council’s Public Health team are reminding residents in at-risk groups to have a flu jab, and get protected before the virus starts to circulate widely.

5_reason_to_vaccinate_flu.jpgThousands of two, three and four year olds in Hertfordshire, so called super-spreaders because of the number of people they infect, are eligible for the pain free nasal flu vaccine to protect against a disease which can be hugely harmful to their grandparents and other youngsters with existing health conditions.  However, research shows that half of parents don’t know about the quick painless spray which can help keep little ones flu safe.

Other groups eligible for free flu vaccinations from the NHS are:

  • older adults (65 and over)
  • under 65s with existing health condition like severe asthma, chest or heart complaints or diabetes
  • pregnant women
  • and carers.

All the vaccinations are safe, quick and contrary to what many people think, they don’t give you flu.  If you fall into one of the at-risk groups contact your GP, practice nurse or midwife to find out how you can get your free jab.  If you don’t but still want to get protected, you can get a vaccination for around £10 at supermarkets and pharmacies across Hertfordshire.

To read the NHS leaflet containing more information, click here.

To view a video about the flu nasal spray, and how the flu vaccine can help stop the flu spreading, click here.

To find out more about flu, and how to stay fit and healthy this winter, visit the NHS Choices website by clicking here.

More Useful Information and Websites

Children's A&E

QEII Hospital, Welwyn Garden City
01707 365 351
Lister Hospital, Stevenage
01438 784 732

** From 16/1/12, there have been changes to the Adult and Children's A&E services at the QEII - for more information, please click here **

Children's First Aid

Check out this website from the British Red Cross, offering free and simple advice on first aid for children - from high temperatures to burns and bleeding and CPR.  This information is available via videos, audio, animation and quizzes and they also have fact sheets available for you to print off.

Health Visiting Team

The Health Visiting Teams in St Albans are contactable on 01727 891 300

They are based from Mandeville Clinic, Mandeville Drive, AL1 2LE

Healthy Start

Visit their website at or ring them on 0845 607 6823

Hertfordshire Postnatal Illness Support

A charity founded and run by mothers who have experienced postnatal illness or postnatal depression and are passionate about supporting other women and their families on their road to recovery.  You don't need a referral from a GP or a health professional to start receiving advice, information or emotional support - you can simply call or email.

Hertfordshire Postnatal Illness Support provide a telephone service where you are teamed with a 'Support Mum', who is your one-to-one contact offering support, reassurance and advice over the phone.  Support Mums are all volunteers who have personal experience of postnatal illness and you can call 01727 826627 or 01727 823466 to start receiving telephone support.  If you prefer email then Hertfordshire Postnatal Illness Support also offer advice and emotional support on email, all you need to do is send a message to .

They also have a website -

Hertfordshire Urgent Care (Out Of Hours GP Service)

03000 333 333

NHS Direct

0845 46 47

NHS Smoking Helpline

0800 169 0169

Principal Health Centre, St Albans

01727 830 130


Whether you're pregnant or a new parent, you'll know it can be an overwhelming time with lots of information to take in.  Start4Life has loads of tips and advice for a healthy pregnancy, and for feeding and getting your baby active.
They have also got ideas for partners, friends and family to support you in the healthy choices that you make, so why not show this site to them as well?

By taking some small, simple steps you really can make sure your baby gets a great start for a healthier life!

Whooping Cough

There is a lot of whooping cough around at the moment and babies who are too young to start their vaccinations are at greatest risk.  Expectant mothers can help protect their babies by getting themselves vaccinated against whooping cough from week 28 of their pregnancy.  Babies will still be vaccinated as normal when they reach two months of age.  Please contact your GP surgery or health visitor to find out more.

Winter Safety

Be Safe and Enjoy Winter

Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service (HFRS), Trading Standards and Resilience have launched their ‘Be Safe and Enjoy Winter’ campaign and are urging people to take care this winter.  As part of the campaign, they have produced their ‘Be Safe and Enjoy Winter’ booklet; a comprehensive guide on how to stay safe while having a good time.  To download a copy of the booklet and find out more about how to protect yourself and others this winter, please click here.