Vaccines for students

As your college or university term begins, remember to check your vaccines are up-to-date. Read about keeping yourself protected from serious diseases.

Infectious diseases can spread easily in college and university communities. More face-to-face contact means you're at higher risk of catching and passing on infectious diseases.

What am I eligible for?

It’s really important for all students to ensure they're up-to-date with their vaccines for:

All vaccines are given as an injection.

What about the Human Papillomavirus (HPV)?

Most students will have had the HPV vaccine at school. If you missed it, you may be eligible for the vaccine. Your eligibility depends on your gender.

For women and those who were assigned female at birth, you're eligible for the HPV vaccine up until your 25th birthday.

For men and those who were assigned male at birth, you're eligible for the HPV vaccine if you started high school during or after the 2019/2020 academic year. If you have sex with men (MSM) and are aged up to and including 45 years old, you're also eligible for the vaccine. This is because MSM are known to have a higher risk of HPV infection.

Read more about the HPV vaccination for MSM

I’m not sure if I’ve missed any vaccinations

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If you're not sure how many doses of the coronavirus vaccine you're eligible for and how you'll be offered them, you can use this self help guide or can call 0800 030 8013.

For other vaccines phone your GP to check if you've had all the recommended doses you're eligible for. Your GP will check your records and advise if it's clinically appropriate for you to receive any vaccines or further doses.

Contact your local GP

What if I've missed my vaccination?

If you've missed a coronavirus vaccine you can rearrange an appointment by calling 0800 030 8013. If you're a new resident in Scotland, you can register online.

If you've missed one or more of the other vaccines, make sure you try and get them as soon as possible. To arrange a vaccine appointment, contact your local health board.

What is immunisation?

Immunisation protects you against serious diseases. Once immunised, your body is better at fighting these diseases if you come into contact with them.

All vaccines in the routine immunisation programme are provided free in Scotland by the NHS.

Vaccination means having a vaccine. Immunisation means both having a vaccine and becoming immune to a disease, as a result of getting the vaccine.

How do vaccines work?

Vaccines work by helping the body's immune system make antibodies (substances that fight off infection). If you come into contact with the infection once immunised, the antibodies recognise the infection and help protect you. Vaccines have either a very weak form of the germ or virus that causes a disease, or a small part of it.

Are vaccines safe?

Vaccines are the safest way to protect against disease. All medicines (including vaccines) are tested to assess their safety and effectiveness. The safety of vaccines continues to be monitored by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) once they're in use.

On the day of your vaccine

The person giving you the vaccine will explain the process to you. Let them know if you:

  • are severely immunosuppressed
  • have recently had another vaccine
  • are pregnant
  • are planning a pregnancy.

If you're nervous or have a fear of needles speak to the person giving you your vaccine. They can support you.


  • wear something suitable so that it's easy to access your upper arm for injections
  • have the vaccine if you've a minor illness, as long as you don't have a fever


  • do not have your vaccine if you're ill with a fever

After the vaccine

It's common to experience some side effects such as swelling, tenderness or redness where you were given the injection. Sometimes a small painless lump develops. These side effects should disappear on their own.

Read more about common side effects of immunisations

Very rarely, some people experience an anaphylactic reaction (serious allergic reaction) soon after vaccination. This can cause difficulty breathing and may cause them to collapse. The person giving you your vaccine is trained to deal with this extremely rare type of reaction.

Immediate action required: Phone 999 immediately if:

  • you have a fit

If you think you might be seriously ill, trust your instincts and seek urgent medical attention.

Non-urgent advice: Phone your GP immediately if:

  • you have a temperature of 39°C or above

If your GP surgery is closed, call 111.