Immunisation: migrant health guide

Advice and guidance on the health needs of migrant patients for healthcare practitioners.

Main messages

Always ask new migrants about their vaccine history.

Assume that patients aren’t immunised, unless they can give a reliable history of vaccination.

Be advised that individuals who arrive in the UK part way through their immunisation schedule should be transferred onto the UK schedule and immunised as appropriate for their age.

If a course of immunisation has been started but not completed, continue from where it was interrupted: there is no need to repeat doses or restart the course.

See the PHE immunisation algorithm for advice on immunising individuals with uncertain or incomplete immunisation status.

In case of doubt, contact your local Screening and Immunisation Team for further advice.

Further advice

The World Health Organization’s ‘vaccine-preventable diseases monitoring system’ has information on immunisation schedules by region, country and vaccine and global immunisation schedules and estimated coverage levels by country.

If you are updating a patient’s immunisations, give as many vaccines as possible at each visit, just in case the patient does not return for subsequent appointments.

Consider asking any other family members who have accompanied the patient about their vaccination histories, and update them during the same visit if possible.

Ask opportunistically about future travel plans to visit friends and relatives in their country of origin, and arrange for provision of appropriate travel advice as necessary.


Public Health England has further advice and information for health professionals and immunisation practitioners on:

The ‘Immunisation: why our children must be protected’ DVD is available in Bengali, British sign language, Chinese, Gujarati, Polish, Punjabi, Somali, Urdu, and with English subtitles.

Published 31 July 2014
Last updated 28 June 2017 + show all updates
  1. Updated and made editorial changes to meet GOV.UK style.

  2. First published.