Fact Sheet Fact Sheet

Infectious Diseases

Migrants carry a low burden of infectious disease. Public Health England's guide provides clear advice on screening and immunisations.

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Last updated

on 27.03.2018

  1. Most migrants have do not have communicable diseases, and in fact carry a low burden
  2. Identifying those at risk for assessment and screening is vital
  3. Always ask about vaccine history

Most migrants have do not have communicable diseases. However, some are at greater risk due to unstable living conditions, the journey with exposure to high risk situations, lack of vaccinations, and lack of screening.

Public Health England's (PHE) Migrant Health Guide provides a wealth of information on country-specific diseases, screening, immunisations, and communicable diseases in migrants. The information below is adapted from it. The links can be found under 'further information'.


Screening for infectious diseases is important in all new patients, including migrants. Offering screening for sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, and hepatitis, should be part of a new health check. In addition, consider TB, and country-specific infections, as per the PHE guidance.


Immunisations are important for both individual and public health. PHE advises:

  • Always ask new migrants about their vaccine history
  • Assume that patients aren't immunised unless they can give a reliable history of vaccination
  • Transfer onto UK schedule those who have traveled part way through (see PHE Migrant Health Guide on how to do this)

Further Information

The Migrant Health Guide from Public Health England provides good information related to country of origin, along with specific communicable diseases and vaccination schedule for those with unknown history can be found on their immunisations page.