Immunisation is one of the key public health measures to prevent infection and illness and death due to infectious disease.

In Scotland, as in the rest of the UK, there are a number of national immunisation programmes including two population based programmes, the childhood immunisation programme and the annual influenza immunisation programme for over 65s. There are also a number of selective programmes which are targeted at groups or individuals at increased risk of certain infections such as TB and hepatitis B.

Every NHS Board in Scotland has a local Immunisation Co-ordinator and in Shetland the Public Health Consultant has this role. The Co-ordinator is responsible for the local implementation of the national immunisation programmes and new initiatives such as publicity campaigns. The Co-ordinator is also responsible for monitoring and improving vaccination uptake locally and addressing any issues that might have an adverse effect on uptake.

The delivery of immunisation programmes is not the responsibility of any one department or service: general practices, school health, community nursing, occupational health; pharmacy; maternity services; public health; health improvement and the Community Health and Care Partnership all have a role to play.

A local 'Vaccination and Immunisation Group' was set up in 2003 to co-ordinate and improve the delivery of vaccination programmes in Shetland. The group has representatives from community and school nursing, practice managers and practice nurses, pharmacy and public health; and links with all the GP practices in Shetland. Work to date has focused on implementing new programmes; monitoring and improving the reporting of vaccination uptake rates; investigating problems with low uptake; improving the systems for delivery of the vaccination programmes and developing training opportunities for staff.

What's the difference between immunisation and vaccination?
Vaccination means having a vaccine - that is actually getting the injection, or nasal spray or oral vaccine.

Immunisation means both receiving a vaccine and then becoming immune to a disease.

Most people use the terms 'vaccination' and 'immunisation' interchangeably but their meanings are not exactly the same.

Where to get information and advice

  • Contact your (or your child's) health visitor, GP, practice nurse or school nurse
  • Immunisation Scotland Website
  • Contact the NHS Shetland Immunisation Co-ordinator
  • For local information about HPV vaccination and flu vaccination given in schools, contact the Child/School Health Department on 01595 743076