Adult immunisations

Adults with a health condition, anyone aged 65 years and over, and healthcare workers are offered vaccines as part of the Scottish Immunisation Programme. These vaccines help protect against serious diseases such as flu, pneumococcal, HPV and shingles.

  • Every year, the flu vaccine is offered to anyone with a health condition, people aged 65 years and over, pregnant women and healthcare workers.
  • The HPV vaccine is offered to men who have sex with men, up to the age of 45 years, from sexual health and HIV clinics.
  • The pneumococcal vaccine is offered to anyone with a health condition and people aged 65 years and older as a one-off vaccine.
  • Shingles immunisation is offered to people 70 to 79 years as a one-off vaccine.

Adults immunisation and health inequalities

Uptake of immunisation amongst adults in Scotland varies, however it is generally high. Uptake can differ when looking at deprivation, with rates being lower amongst those living in the most deprived areas, people from Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) groups, and people with a learning disability.

Local and national action

Information for the public

NHS Health Scotland works closely with Health Protection Scotland, NHS Education for Scotland, Scottish Government and NHS Health Board Immunisation Coordinators to provide up-to-date resources about the immunisation programmes offered in Scotland. Easily accessible resources in the right format and language can help adults with a health condition, and those aged 65 years and over, with informed participation.

All our public information is available in Urdu, Chinese and Polish and in an easy-read format. NHS Health Scotland is happy to consider requests for other languages and formats by emailing nhs.healthscotland-alternativeformats@nhs.net

All information for the public, as well as translations and other formats, are available on the NHS inform (external website). The Scottish Immunisation Programme is also supported by the NHS inform helpline (external website).

Recommended vaccines

Influenza (Flu) immunisation is offered from October to March to everyone aged 65 and over, pregnant women, anyone with a serious health condition, and all health care workers. The annual flu vaccine is the safest and most effective way to help protect against this unpredictable virus. The Scottish Government Chief Medical Officer letter (August 2017) provides information on key elements of the Influenza Immunisation Programme (external download; 342 KB ). Resources such as posters, leaflets and template letters have been produced for health professionals (GPs, practice nurses) supporting the programme. For information on the child flu immunisation programme, go to the resources below.

The NHS inform website provides flu immunisation information for the public.

The pneumococcal vaccine is recommended for anyone with a serious health condition and everyone aged 65 years and over. The vaccine can be given at any time and one injection provides years of protection. The vaccine provides some protection against a form of bacterial meningitis and it also helps protect against other conditions such as severe ear infections and pneumonia caused by pneumococcal bacteria. The Scottish Government Chief Medical Officer letter August 2011 provides information on key elements of the pneumococcal vaccination programme (external download; 51 KB).

NHS inform provides pneumococcal immunisation information for the public.

The human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine is recommended for men who have sex with men (MSM) up to the age of 45 years from sexual health and HIV clinics.

The vaccine helps protect MSM against cancer and genital warts caused by HPV. The Scottish Government Chief Medical Officer letter (May 2017) provides information on key elements of the HPV MSM Immunisation Programme (external download; 227 KB).

NHS inform provides HPV MSM immunisation information for the public.

The shingles (also known as herpes zoster) vaccine is recommended for people aged 70 to 79 years of age. The vaccine, which is given as a one-off injection, can reduce the chance of getting shingles, or it can reduce how severe or long lasting the symptoms can be, if contracted. The Scottish Government Chief Medical Officer letter (August 2017) provides information on key elements of the Shingles Immunisation Programme (external download; 224 KB).

Resources, such as posters, leaflets, and a template letter to invite eligible patients for their shingles immunisation have been produced for health professionals (GPs, practice nurses etc.) supporting the programme.