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Nurses should consider telephone consultations with parents and send out information digitally to ensure the childhood immunisation programme is maintained during the coronavirus pandemic, the Royal College of Nursing has advised in a fresh warning over the importance of vaccination.
The RCN has today issued a plea that childhood immunisation should not be forgotten or missed during the Covid-19 crisis, stating that the routine vaccination programme “remains vital”.
“The vaccination programme remains vital for public health now and for the future”
It comes as recent research published in the British Medical Journal last month showed MMR vaccination counts fell from February 2020 and were 19.8% lower in the three weeks after social distancing was introduced, compared to the same period in 2019. Figures had improved in mid-April, according to the research.
The college has today urged people not to forget childhood immunisation amid Covid-19 and has stressed that it is particularly important that children do not miss out on the routine vaccination programme to protect them now, as well as in the future.
Guidance issued by the RCN in April (see attached PDF below) provides information and tips on maintaining the immunisation programme throughout the pandemic, with particular advice for nursing staff involved in trying to ensure the programme continues.
As part of this, nursing staff should consider telephone consultations with parents to complete as much of the pre-immunisation discussion as possible, the guidance stated.
In addition, it said nurses and other health professionals should discuss consent and give post-immunisation advice prior to the patient attending the practice.
Nurses should also consider sending out information to parents in advance of the appointment by text or email, the guidance added.
The RCN recommended that guidance should be given to parents or carers on what is being done to keep them safe while attending practices for vaccination, such as information on cleaning programmes and assurance that the practice has a social distancing policy.
Helen Donovan, RCN professional lead for public health, said: “The vaccination programme remains vital for public health now and for the future, and it remains important it continues.
“We know from experience that falls in immunisation rates can lead to increases in death from the diseases the vaccines are designed to prevent. This is why it is so important the routine vaccination programme continues.”
She reiterated that parents should be reassured that staff had put measures in place to ensure vaccinations were carried out in a safe environment during the pandemic.
“It is understandable that parents, will have concerns about taking their children to the surgery at this time but they should be assured that measures are in place to provide safe environment for vaccinations to take place,” said Ms Donovan.
Last year, Nursing Times covered childhood vaccination as part of a Focus feature which explored the reasons behind a fall in immunisation rates, views from the primary care front line and whether we should move to mandatory jabs: