Immunisation programmes are designed to help protect the population from serious vaccine-preventable diseases.
Immunisation policy in Scotland is set by the Scottish Government Health Directorates on the advice of the Joint Committee of Vaccinations and Immunisations (JCVI) (external site) and other appropriate bodies.
- assesses evidence and makes recommendations for all immunisation programmes
- advises the UK Government and the NHS in the 4 UK countries about all aspects of immunisation
- supports implementation of all immunisation programmes.
We work closely with national health protection specialists and local NHS Board Immunisation coordinators to support the public with information about vaccines offered in the Scottish Immunisation Programme.
- Getting immunised is the best way to help protect against serious diseases such as measles, mumps, meningitis, septicaemia, flu, whooping cough and cervical cancer.
- Vaccines are offered across all life stages.
- All vaccines in the immunisation programme are provided free in Scotland by the NHS.
- Pregnant women are eligible for vaccines to protect them and their developing babies against flu and whooping cough. Vaccines offered to pregnant women can be viewed on the pregnancy timeline on NHS inform (external site).
- This year (2020), the annual flu vaccine will be offered to children from the age of 2 years until the end of primary school, everyone aged 55 years or over, anyone with a health condition, household members of individuals shielding, unpaid and young carers, pregnant women, healthcare workers, and social care workers who provide direct personal care. Visit the NHS inform flu vaccination page (external site) for more information.
Immunisation and health inequalities
Uptake of vaccines in Scotland is generally high, however it is lower in deprived areas, and among certain ethnic minority groups.
For example, in 2016/17 uptake of the
- teenage booster immunisations was lower for pupils living in the most deprived areas
- Td/IPV vaccine was 79% in the most deprived areas of Scotland compared to 92% in the least deprived areas.
For more information on vaccine uptake, and trends over time, visit the HPS Data and surveillance page (external site).
Local and national actions
Information for the public
We produce information for the public on each of the immunisation programmes. 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).
We work with key stakeholders who conduct research on barriers to accessing immunisations in deprived areas and among certain ethnic minority groups. This research informs how we develop our public facing information on immunisations.
We are also part of the Scottish Health Protection Network (SHPN). This is a network of professional organisations and networks in the health protection community across Scotland. It aims to promote, sustain, and coordinate good practice. It supports a systematic approach to development, appraisal and adaptation of guidelines, seeking excellence in health protection practice.
The latest information on vaccines and immunisation procedures for health professionals in the UK, can be found in the Green Book.
Immunisation programmes vary across the UK. For immunisation information specific to Scotland, you can visit the NHS inform website.
The Scottish Vaccine Update (external site) provides frontline health professionals with current information, announcements and practical advice about immunisation policy, practice and vaccine supply in Scotland.
Safety and reporting side effects
Once vaccines have been licensed for use, their safety continues to be monitored from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) (external site). Side effects are reported using the Yellow Card Scheme (external site).
TRAVAX (external site) is provided for professionals and is maintained and continually updated by the travel health team at Public Health Scotland. It is a UK National Health Service resource.
Fit for Travel (external site) contains travel health and vaccine information for people travelling abroad from the UK.