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Improving health
Previously NHS Health Scotland

Child and teenager immunisations

As children develop they are exposed to many risks, one of these risks being infections. Most of these will cause mild illnesses. However, infection can still cause severe illness, disability and, at times, death. 

Before vaccines were available, many children in the UK died from diseases such as whooping cough, measles and polio. The development of effective vaccines has led to a huge decrease in childhood deaths.

The benefit of immunisation is that children and teenagers have the best possible protection against dangerous diseases.

  • Every year, the flu vaccine is offered to children 2 years of age until the end of primary school.
  • Children 3 years and 4 months of age are offered the DTap/IPV and MMR vaccines which are often called pre-school boosters.
  • The HPV vaccine is offered to all boys and girls in S1, (11 years of age), at secondary school.
  • Teenagers are offered the Td/IPV booster and the MenACWY vaccines at school.
  • Teenagers who have not had two doses of the MMR vaccine may be offered the second dose at school.
  • For children and teenagers with a health condition the flu and pneumococcal vaccines are recommended.
  • You can view the vaccination schedule on NHS inform (external site). 

Child and teenager immunisations and health inequalities

Uptake of immunisation amongst children and teenagers in Scotland is generally high, however rates are lower in more deprived areas.

Uptake can differ when looking at deprivation, with rates being lower amongst children and teenagers living in the most deprived areas, or who are from Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) groups, or those with a learning disability.

Local and national actions

Information for the public

We work closely with NHS Education for Scotland, Scottish Government and local NHS 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 parents and teenagers with informed participation.

All our public information is available in English, Urdu, Chinese and Polish, BSL and Easy Read. If you require publications or documents in other formats please email the Public Health Scotland Other Formats team.

Information for the public is available on NHS inform (external site).

Recommended vaccines

Health care practices can order a routine childhood immunisation programme poster from their local health information resource service. You can also view a copy on the routine childhood immunisation programme poster download page.

Flu immunisation

Influenza (Flu) immunisation is offered from autumn each year to children aged 2 years until the end of primary school.

You can find out more about this on our child flu immunisation page.

The DTaP/IPV vaccine

The DTaP/IPV vaccine is offered to children aged 3 years and 4 months boosting protection against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough) and polio.

The MMR vaccine 

The MMR vaccine is given in two doses. The first is when the child is at 12 to 13 months, and then at 3 years and 4 months of age. The vaccine is the safest and most effective way to help protect children against measles, mumps and rubella. Teenagers who haven’t had two doses of the vaccine may also be offered the vaccine during their routine teenage immunisation at school.

The Td/IPV vaccine

The Td/IPV vaccine is offered to teenagers between 13 and 18 years of age at school. The Td/IPV vaccine completes the 5 dose course that provides complete protection against tetanus, diphtheria and polio.

The MenACWY vaccine

The MenACWY vaccine is offered to all teenagers who are in S3 (around 14 years of age) at school. Young people who are in S4 to S6 and missed the opportunity to get immunised in S3 may also get the vaccine as a catch up. The vaccine is the safest and most effective way to help protect against meningitis and septicaemia caused by four groups of meningococcal bacteria A, C, W and Y. The Scottish Government Chief Medical Officer letter August 2015 (external site) provides information on key elements of the Td/IPV Immunisation Programme.

The HPV vaccine
The human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine has been offered to girls in Scotland from S1 since 2008. The HPV vaccine is now offered to S1 boys as well. This is because evidence now shows that the vaccine helps protect both boys and girls from HPV-related cancers including head and neck, cervical (in females) and anogenital.
 
The Scottish Government Chief Medical Officer letter (August 2019) provides information on key elements, and changes to the schedule of the HPV immunisation Programme 19/20 (external site).
 
An HPV Education Pack has been developed for head teachers and school staff to support the HPV immunisation programme in schools.