GP mythbuster 37: Immunising healthcare staff

Page last updated: 1 September 2023
Organisations we regulate

GP practices must ensure that staff receive the immunisations that are appropriate for their role.

Immunising healthcare staff is necessary to:

  • protect them and their family
  • protect patients and people using the service, particularly people in more vulnerable circumstances and those who are immunosuppressed 
  • protect other healthcare staff
  • enable services to run without disruption.

You should be able to show that the practice has an effective employee immunisation programme. This includes demonstrating how you arrange this service. As well as this:

  • all employees should be able to have an occupational health assessment
  • new employees should have a pre-employment health assessment.

These assessments should include a review of their immunisation needs.

The 'Green Book' Immunisation Against Infectious Diseases gives information on immunisation for staff in general practice. This includes which immunisations may be appropriate for different groups of staff as it depends on their role and where they work.

Vaccinations for all staff in contact with patients

Everyone who has direct contact with patients should be up-to-date with routine immunisations. This includes reception staff and those who handle samples or need to clean up bodily fluids. The immunisations are to protect against:

  • tetanus
  • polio
  • diphtheria
  • measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) – this is particularly important to avoid transmission to people who are more vulnerable of health problems should they acquire the disease/infection. Evidence of satisfactory immunity to MMR is either:
    • a positive antibody test to measles and rubella
    • having 2 doses of the MMR vaccine.

Some staff may need further vaccinations for:

  • Bacillus Calmette–Guérin (BCG) if they have close contact with patients with infectious tuberculosis (TB)
  • Hepatitis B and relevant boosters if they have:
    • direct contact with patients’ blood or blood-stained body fluids, such as from sharps
    • are at risk of being injured or bitten by patients
  • Varicella (chickenpox) if they have direct contact with patients and either cannot give a definite history of chickenpox or shingles or have a blood test which does not show they are immune.

Your practice should also:

  • offer the annual influenza vaccine to staff 
  • encourage all staff to have any of the approved COVID-19 vaccines in line with the latest government guidance. See the advice in COVID-19: the Green book chapter 14a.

If staff do not have the required immunisations, you must record a clear rationale for the decision. This should include an appropriate risk assessment.

Staff with underlying medical conditions should have a personalised assessment and personal risk assessment.

When we inspect

We consider these Regulations when we review if the practice is safe, effective, responsive, caring and well led. This mythbuster relates to:

Legal requirements

Requirements to protect staff and patients through appropriate vaccination are set out in:

GP mythbusters