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Immunisation is a cost effective and critical element of preventive care around the world. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimate that it prevents between two and three million deaths each year.

Nurses have a major role in advising and promoting immunisation. This includes administering vaccinations included in the childhood immunisation programme and those recommended for adults, including travel vaccines and the annual influenza vaccination.

Immunisation policy for the UK is available in Immunisation against infectious diseases – the Green Book. The book includes the rationale for the policy. It also has the individual disease epidemiology and evidence on the efficacy and safety of the appropriate vaccines. It also contains general information on immunisation administration and best practice.

The book is written and updated by the Department of Health in conjunction with the public health agencies across the UK. All health care professionals involved in immunisation should have access to the online version.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) advises the UK health departments on immunisations for the prevention of infections and/or disease following due consideration of the evidence on; the burden of disease, on vaccine safety and efficacy and on the impact and cost effectiveness of immunisation strategies.

Current issues

See: RCN COVID-19 vaccination hub

Routine infant primary immunisations

From 31 January 2022 Vaxelis® will be available to order as an alternative to Infanrix hexa® (DTaP/IPV/Hib/HepB) for routine infant primary immunisations scheduled at 8, 12 and 16 weeks of age. Both products protect against the same six diseases and Vaxelis® has been licensed in Europe for more than five years. Further details can be found in the Vaxelis® Summary of Product Characteristics Vaxelis suspension for injection in pre-filled syringe - Summary of Product Characteristics (SmPC) and updated UKHSA training and healthcare professional information including the updated Immunisation schedules and infant leaflets will be available shortly. See: GOV.UK. Immunisation.


For more information on the current Influenza vaccination season, see:

HPV vaccine universal programme

From 1st September 2019 the HPV vaccine will be made available to all young people in school year 8, this means expanding the programme to include boys as well as girls. The vaccine will protect boys against several cancers that affect both sexes. The information and materials to support the campaign are available here. Northern Ireland specific resources can be found here.


Changes to the BCG programme from September 2021. These changes are to ensure BCG vaccine is given to eligible babies from 28 days after screening for severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) results are available or there is confirmation that the child was not offered SCID screening.

Hepatitis B

See below webinar on testing infants born to mothers with hepatitis B. This recording is intended for use both by women with hepatitis B and health professionals caring for women with hepatitis B.

Webinar: Testing infants born to mothers with hepatitis B

Useful websites and resources:

  • World Health Organization. The WHO Global vaccine safety initiative provides links to web sites which meet agreed standards on what is good information. See: Vaccine safety websites meeting good information practices criteria. The Vaccine safety Net provides further information and links to WHO validated web sites and reputable sources of evidence related to vaccines and vaccine preventable disease 

  • These websites will provide you with further information:
  • BMA vaccinations and immunisation guidance
  • British Foreign and Commonwealth Office
  • Centre for Public Scrutiny (CfPS). The CfPS and Sanofi Pasteur MSK, have developed resources to support local authorities scrutinise immunisation services. See: Scrutinising immunisation services 
  • European Centre for disease prevention and control
  • Health Protection Scotland
  • HSC Public Health Agency Northern Ireland:health protection
  • International Longevity Centre - Immuneresponse. Adult immunisation in the UK
  • Meningitis Research Foundation- has a range of information about meningitis and septicaemia. 'Vital Signs Vital Issues' is a useful resource and includes answers to many of the questions parents frequently ask about vaccination.
  • The National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance in Australia have developed the Sharing Knowledge about immunisation portal with tailored communication and information resources. The SKAI website for parents also contains information and videos for parents. The portal for health care professionals is in development.
  • NHS24 - health information and self care advice for Scotland.
  • NHS Choices: The NHS vaccination schedule - information from the NHS choices web site can be printed off to give to patients.
  • NHS Direct Wales
  • NICE guidance - Vaccine uptake in the general population
  • NICE pathway - Immunisation for children and young people
  • Oxford Vaccine Group (OVG): Vaccine Knowledge Project - this site is aimed at informing parents about VPDs and has useful films on decision making
  • Public Health England Immunisation pages
  • Public Health England Health protection, infectious diseases
  • Public Health England "What to expect after vaccinations”
  • Public Health Wales: health protection
  • *The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Vaccination Education Centre
  • *USCentres for Disease Control and Prevention - vaccines and immunizations. This American website contains useful sources of information including Vaccine Information Statements, and Interpreting abbreviations on records
  • WHO: Immunisation schedules by country
  • * denotes American websites where vaccine schedules may vary to those followed in the UK.


    Page last updated - 06/06/2022