BCH FT change flu vaccination system to protect schoolchildren

An innovative NHS immunisation team at Bridgewater Community Healthcare (BCH) NHS FT, have adopted new methods for delivering flu vaccinations to schoolchildren in the region – ensuring they are protected from Covid-19, whilst being immunised against the flu.

The team is now ‘mobile’ within some schools in Warrington, and Widnes and Runcorn – travelling to the individual class bubbles and using portable vaccination stations to vaccinate children. This follows on from very strict infection control measures carried out to minimise the potential for cross contamination between bubbles.

The initiative enables children to be given the vaccine whilst remaining in their class bubbles, rather than the traditional method of queuing in a larger space, providing reassurance to children, their families and school staff.

A significant number of schools have opted for the new system, though the immunisation team at BCH provides a flexible service, within strict infection control measures, adapting to the needs of each school.

The BCH team is now appealing to more parents to allow their children to have a flu vaccine, as take up has been low in some schools.

Lisa Williams, 0-19 Public Health Nurse Specialist for immunisations, said: “We developed the initiative following concerns raised by a head teacher about how the flu vaccine could be given whilst class bubbles are maintained.

“It is working extremely well and is enabling us to vaccinate hundreds of children and young people against an illness which can be extremely unpleasant, particularly as we approach the winter months and have the complications of the Covid-19 pandemic. We would urge all parents and carers to have their children vaccinated.”

Wendy McKinnon, Head Teacher of St Andrew’s C.E Primary School in Orford, Warrington, said: “We recently participated in the childhood flu immunisation programme run by the NHS immunisation team.

“The whole process was handled smoothly and professionally, with the nurses visiting children within their classroom settings, so we maintained the integrity of our Covid secure ‘bubbles’. PPE was used effectively to further reduce any risks.

“The children were treated very kindly and the whole process was completed efficiently and safely, thus reducing the risk of our children and subsequently the wider community contracting the flu. We felt this was very important during the current pandemic.”

Throughout Autumn/Winter the annual flu vaccine is normally only offered to children in school years reception and one to six, but year seven will be included for the first time this year as part of the NHS childhood vaccination programme.

The vaccine will be given as a single spray squirted up each nostril and is needle-free, making it a big advantage for children. The vaccine is absorbed very quickly and will still work even if, after the vaccination, children develop a runny nose, sneezes or blow their nose. Flu vaccines may cause a mild fever which is usually resolved within 48 hours, which is a common, expected reaction and isolation is not required unless Covid-19 is suspected. 

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