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.
Country specific guidance
Administration of vaccines
- RCN guidance on vaccination during COVID-19 and the COVID-19 vaccine programmes
- RCN. Guidance on remote consultations under COVID-19 restrictions
- RCN. Sexual health services and COVID
- RCN. Occupational health and COVID
- RCN blog. Managing TB during the COVID-19 Pandemic
- ECDC & WHO. EMCDDA update on the implications of COVID-19 for people who use drugs and drug service providers
- NHS England. Guidance for commissioners and providers of services for people who use drugs or alcohol
- PHE. Guidance on immunisation training during the COVID-19 pandemic
- PHE. JCVI statement on immunisation prioritisation
Autumn Vaccine programmes
COVID-19 vaccine. RCN COVID-19 vaccination hub
Influenza vaccine. Flu vaccinations 2022-2023
Routine infant primary immunisations
The UK vaccine programme is constantly evolving, as advised by the Joint Committee of Immunisation and Vaccination (JCVI). This is based on the evidence of vaccine efficacy, the impact of the vaccine programmes to the epidemiology of the vaccine preventable diseases and the supply of vaccines.
The JCVI has been notified of the discontinuation of Menitorix© (Hib/MenC). This necessitates a change to the routine infant schedule as this vaccine is currently given at 12 months.
See: Independent report Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) statement on changes to the childhood immunisation schedule (November 2022). This is for advice. There is no immediate change planned and current supplies of menitorix are available until around 2025 final details on the detail are still to be agreed.
The HPV universal programme commenced in September 2019 the 2 dose schedule came in April 2022. For more information see: Human papillomavirus (HPV) universal vaccination programme.
JCVI, have advised on a one-dose schedule for the routine adolescent programme and MSM programme before the 25th birthday. For further information see: JCVI statement on a one-dose schedule for the routine HPV immunisation programme this change has not yet been agreed for implementation.
Severe Combined Immunodeficiency Screening SCID
Screening for SCID is currently being evaluated in some parts of the country see: SCID screening evaluation.
There is further information on how this impacts on the BCG and Rotavirus vaccine programmes to ensure the vaccines are given once there is confirmation that the child is not affected by SCID or was not offered SCID screening.
Following the detection of Vaccine-like type-2 poliovirus (PV2) isolates found in sewage samples from the London Beckton sewage treatment works in February 2022. As part of public Health measures to contain poliomyelitis virus, a campaign to offer supplementary vaccination against polio is currently in place in London, see: Polio information and resources.
Mpox (Monkey Pox)
There is a targeted campaign for high risk individuals for management of mpox or monkey pox – Further information is available, see: Monkey Pox vaccination guidance.
Local outbreaks and migrant health and asylum seekers
Isolated incidence of some infections, such as Diphtheria in migrants and asylum seekers may warrant local action.
Diphtheria is of particular concern. View the updated UKHSA guidance - Diphtheria: cases among asylum seekers in England, 2022 and Public health control and management of diphtheria in England: December 2022 guidelines.
See the webinar below 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
Resources to support the webinar
RCN blog. Managing TB during the COVID-19 Pandemic
Public Health England. Guidance on immunisation training during the COVID-19 pandemic
Public Health England. Hepatitis B: the green book, chapter 18
Public Health England. Hepatitis B: vaccination guidance, data and analysis
Public Heath England. Infants born to hepatitis B infected mothers
Public Health England. JCVI statement on immunisation prioritisation.
Useful websites and resources:
These websites will provide you with further information:
* denotes American websites where vaccine schedules may vary to those followed in the UK.
Who is this resource for?
This resource is aimed at nurses across all settings and levels of practice, including students of health, social work and care professions.
What will this resource give me?
- Information on immunisation as critical element of preventative care
- access to the latest immunisation policy for the UK
- role of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation in advising UK health departments.
- country-specific guidance on immunisations
- latest guidance on COVID-19 vaccinations
- practical and clinical guidance for vaccine administration
- information on routine infant primary immunisations, the current influenza vaccination season, HPV vaccine universal programme and BCG programme
- video on testing infants born to mothers with hepatitis B
- access to a range of useful websites and resources.
Page last updated - 19/05/2023