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.

Webinar: 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.

Resources to support the webinar

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: 10 questions guide to scrutinising immunisation services. The report includes case studies of best practice.
  • 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 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.

    Current issues


    For more information on the 2019 - 2020 Influenza vaccination season, see: Flu vaccinations advice.

    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.

    MMR / Measles

    PHE has released new leaflets and posters designed to promote MMR vaccination, particularly to those who may have missed vaccination as children, and to alert people to symptoms of measles so they can minimise spread of infection. See:

    Use opportunities such as when people are travelling or when people are starting Higher Education Institution courses to remind people about MMR vaccine.

    General Guidance

    Immunisation policy for the UK is available in the Department of Health (DH) publication Immunisation Against Infectious Diseases: The Green Book.

    Immunisation policy in the UK is informed by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI). The JCVI's remit is to advise UK health departments on immunisations 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.

    Administration of vaccines

    See: Practical and clinical guidance for vaccine administration.

    Immunisation training

    All staff involved in administering vaccines should be suitably trained and competent to fulfil the role and be able to answer questions with accuracy and confidence in line with nationally agreed standards.

    It is recommended that immunisation training should be either through a face to face taught course or a blended approach of both e-learning and a face to face taught course.

    New immunisers should also have a period of supervised practice and support with a registered healthcare practitioner who is experienced, up to date and competent in immunisation.


    Immunisation e-learning resource 

    Interactive e-learning programme to support the training of healthcare practitioners involved in advising on and/or delivering immunisation across the life course. The programme is free to access, just register to use the e-lfh portal. The course is designed around the updated National Minimum standards and the competency assessment tool.

    View the Immunisation e-learning programme.

    See the specific flu e-learning resource.

    Keeping up to date

    The immunisation programme in the UK is constantly evolving to best protect the public by controlling vaccine preventable diseases. Health professionals must keep up to date with these changes.

    The vaccine supply newsletter, ‘Vaccine Update’ comes out approximately every four to six weeks and can be emailed directly to individuals upon request. Email: This newsletter gives advice on current vaccine availability, any changes to the schedule and updates to the Green Book.

    ‘Vaccine Update’ is available to health care professionals across the UK. However, for country specific information, see:

    Travel health vaccination

    There were 72.8 million visits overseas by UK residents in 2017, an increase of 3% on 2016 and the highest recorded (Office for National Statistics 2018). Travel health medicine is a fast growing specialist area of practice. The RCN guidance, 'Competencies: travel health nursing: career and competence development' (RCN, 2018) provides information on current guidelines and standards and defines the standards of care expected for a competent registered nurse, experienced/proficient nurse and a senior practitioner/expert nurse working in travel health nursing.

    The National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) provides advice on travel health, including travel vaccination.

    TRAVAX (LOGIN REQUIRED) and fitfortravel from Health Protection Scotland (HPS) provides similar information to NaTHNaC.

    NHS Wales has an organisational subscription to TRAVAX which is therefore freely available to NHS Wales users (via HOWIS (Health of Wales Information Service)).

    The British Medical Association (BMA) publication, Focus on Travel Immunisation offers clarity around the immunisation issues within the General Medical Services (GMS) contract and how travel immunisations may be funded.

    More people in the world are migrating today than at any other point in human history and the Health Protection Agency (now part of Public Health England) has produced a Migrant Health Guide, which supports practitioners making decisions around best protecting the health of migrants. An accompanying video looks at how to catch up immunisations for migrants to the UK.

    Additional information

    It is good practice to support any advice you give with written information. Check that the information printed from websites is up to date, evidence based and from a credible source.

    As a general guide when searching the web for information, ask yourself and encourage patients, parents and carers to ask the following questions:

    • who or what is behind the information?
    • is the information biased, or possibly selected to present one view point?
    • does the author have a vested interest in the information they are presenting?
    • is it dated? There may be more current advice available.
    • is it referenced and are uncertainties acknowledged?

    In addition look for websites providing reliable and trustworthy health information which have the Health on the net HONcode.

    Page last updated - 23/11/2020