Immunisation & Vaccines

Vaccines are safe, effective and important:

  • The NHS says that vaccines are the most effective way of protecting people from infectious disease and prevent up to 3 million deaths yearly.

  • Vaccines protect your community, by reducing the risk of infection to people who cannot have vaccines, and lowering the number of infections.

  • Vaccines do not cause autism, allergies or other conditions.

If you would like to read more about why vaccines are important then you can do so on the NHS website.

Vaccines for living and working in the UK

Most children will have been given vaccines at their GP surgery or school. If you do not remember receiving vaccines, or you are not sure if you have had all of them, we strongly advise that you contact your GP and ask what vaccines you have received.

Which vaccines you have received will depend on factors such as age, sex and where you grew up.

This is a useful record to have in case you decide to go abroad or are asked about tetanus following an injury.

Having vaccines is your choice*, but it is important to understand that not having vaccines puts you and other people at risk.

(*Some courses will require you to have specific vaccines as part of your fitness to practise).


Infections that can be prevented through vaccination


Who is vaccinated?

BCG (Tuberculosis)

Risk groups, including health workers in the UK


Recommended for some overseas travel

Hepatitis A

Travel, Risk Groups, and some workers

Hepatitis B

Travel, Risk Groups, and some health/prison workers

HPV (which causes Genital Warts / Cervical Cancer).

Routine for girls and only recently boys too in the UK. Also available for risk groups.


Routine in UK


Routine for babies now, but recommended for HE Students  


Routine in UK


Routine in UK


Routine in UK

Seasonal Flu

Risk groups and some workers


Routine in UK




Vaccinations and University Students

As well as the lists above, there are 2 vaccines which are particularly relevant to University students.

These are the MMR vaccine and the MenACWY vaccine. These are both available for free from your GP and you should be vaccinated before you come to University.


Meningococcal bacteria are found in the back of the throat and nose, in around 1 in 10 people. These bacteria are passed on when people cough, sneeze, kiss or share drinks, toothbrushes or cigarettes. There are four strains of bacteria that are responsible for most cases of meningitis and you can be vaccinated against these.

Meningitis is swelling of the membrane surrounding the brain and spinal cord, which can lead to septicaemia (blood poisoning) and result in permanent nerve and brain damage.

When someone develops meningitis they can become very sick, very quickly, and will need urgent medical attention. The symptoms can start like a bad flu or hangover, but they can get worse very quickly. If someone is ill and starting to get worse, call NHS Direct or your GP straight away. In an emergency, dial 999.

One of the most serious strains is caused by MenW bacteria. This strain has a higher death rate, and often leads to lifelong disability.

Before you move into halls you should have had the MenACWY vaccine. When you speak to your housemates, you should ask them whether they have had it, you could save their life.

You can get this vaccine for free from your GP if you are starting university for the first time and are under 25. If in doubt, you can check your eligibility on the Meningitis Research Foundation Site.

You can also read more about the MenACWY vaccine and why it has been introduced on Public Health Wales. If you are undecided, you can look through the videos of students talking about their experiences of having meningitis at University. Sophie is one such student, who is compelling all other students to get vaccinated after her experience. You can watch Sophie’s story here.

MMR Vaccine

The MMR Vaccine protects people against measles, mumps and rubella. These are potentially serious infections, and students are at risk.

In 2020, at many UK Universities, (Including Cardiff) there were outbreaks of mumps. Many people who grew up in the late 90’s were not given the MMR vaccine, as misinformation was spread that discouraged parents from getting the MMR vaccine for their children. Many of these people may not even know that they haven’t been vaccinated.

This led to a prominent increase in the infection, which in severe cases, can cause testicular problems in men, and deafness in both men and women.

If you are in any doubt, then you should contact your GP and ask to see your vaccination record.

You should have completed the MMR vaccine course before returning to University to help keep you, and other people safe.

Vaccinations for International Students

If you are an international student, you may not have had all the vaccinations that you need.

You should be vaccinated against Tetanus, Polio, Diphtheria, Tuberculosis, Meningitis (MenACWY), measles, mumps and rubella (MMR). 

You should contact your GP in the UK as soon as you arrive to have your vaccination record checked and to see whether you are eligible for any other vaccines.

You must also check whether you are required to provide a Tuberculosis Certificate. There is a list of countries on the UK Government Website which details these requirements. 

Vaccinations and Sexual Health

Some sexually transmitted infections can be prevented with vaccines. These include Hep A, Hep B, HPV.

These vaccines may only be available free for certain people, such as men who have sex with men. (MSM). By getting vaccinated, you can help to keep you and other people safe.

You can find out which vaccines are available by contacting your local GUM Clinic.  

The HPV vaccine may be available for most people (such as men who missed out when they were at school) up to your 25th birthday. You can contact your GP for further information.

You can read more about sexual health on our Sexual Health advice page.

Vaccinations for people at risk

Some groups of people deemed to be high risk may be able to receive the seasonal flu vaccine. You can read more about who is at risk on the NHS website.

Health and social workers may be offered the Flu vaccine, and some employers also offer this to their employees.

If you are working, you may like to ask your employer whether you are eligible for the seasonal flu vaccine.

Vaccinations for Specific Courses and Employment

Some workers and University students may be required to have vaccines. These may include health workers, prison workers, social workers, sewage workers.

Your University course should inform you whether you are required to be vaccinated, what these vaccines are, and how you can access these. Not being vaccinated could make you unfit to practise. If you would like further advice on this, please contact us

You can read about Occupational Health Requirements for Healthcare students on the University Website.

These vaccinations may include, BCG (TB), Hep A/B, Seasonal Flu, in addition to the other vaccines discussed above.

Vaccines for Overseas travel

Before travelling overseas, you must check what vaccines are required for the country you are visiting. If you are taking a transit stop, then you do not usually need vaccinations for that country, unless you are leaving the airport.

It is very important to plan well in advance or inform your GP as early as you can. Some vaccines are delivered in courses over a few months.

The best way to check which vaccines you need is on the NHS Website, Fit for Travel or Travel Health Pro. If you type in your destination on these sites, they will tell you which vaccines are required. They also provide advice on other medical conditions which you could develop in your chosen country, such as altitude sickness, malaria or other diseases.  

Not being vaccinated can invalidate your travel insurance. If you travel and get an infection for which a vaccination was recommended by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, you may not be covered by travel insurance, and you could be faced with enormous medical and repatriation costs.

Some countries may also require to see proof that you have been vaccinated before granting you entry to that country.

How do I get vaccinated for travel? 

The first step is to contact your GP and explain where you a travelling and ask which vaccines you have already had.

Some vaccines are free, and provided by the NHS, whereas others you are required to pay for. For example;

Free on the NHS – These vaccines are free because the infections they cause are through to represent a high risk to the UK population;

  • Polio (Given as a combined Polio/Diphtheria/Tetanus Jab)
  • Typhoid
  • Hepatitis A
  • Cholera

Vaccines which you are required to pay for;

  • Hepatitis B
  • Japanese encephalitis
  • Meningitis
  • Rabies
  • Tick borne encephalitis
  • Tuberculosis
  • Yellow Fever

Your GP surgery should be able to tell you which vaccines you have had and whether they can offer you any vaccinations.

If your GP cannot provide you some vaccines which are paid for by the NHS, then they may be able to charge you to have them done as a private patient. If this is the case, you can ask how much the vaccines cost and about any other costs.

You may be able to get some vaccines done at your community pharmacy. You can see which pharmacies there are in your area and whether they offer travel vaccines on the Welsh NHS website.

Contact Student Advice
+44 (0)2920 781410



Cardiff University Students’ Union, registered in Wales. Nothing here in contained constitutes an order for goods or services unless accompanied by an official order

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