Can lessons learnt from the childhood vaccination programme during the COVID pandemic support flu planning in General Practice?
During the Coronavirus pandemic, primary care services have had to rapidly change their working practices, not least in the continued delivery of the national childhood immunisation programme. With the start of immunisation awareness month in August and the fast-approaching flu season, it’s a great time to reflect on, learn from and celebrate the successes primary care have achieved in ensuring, wherever possible, children continue to receive vital vaccinations during one of the most challenging periods in primary care.
Practices, working in partnership with SCW’s Improving Immunisations Uptake (IIU) Team, have identified and addressed challenges that impact child immunisation uptake rates. This collaborative approach during the pandemic has provided a great opportunity to share the best practice and great work primary care teams have achieved during this challenging time. Some examples of innovative working include:
- Practices and staff 'moving' to other premises in order to continue offering immunisation services, where a practice has been designated as a Coronavirus hub.
- Additional immunisation clinics put in place due to additional capacity provided by some “routine” work being put on hold.
- PCNs 'sharing' vaccination staff across practices to cover sickness/shielding or applying for additional funding for locum staff.
- Staff redeployed from one area of work within a practice to another e.g. Reception staff investigating and following up with children who have outstanding immunisations. Staff reported that as parents were at home due to lockdown, contacting them was much easier.
- Working with parents to ensure those having difficulty registering births, do not then face further challenges getting their child immunised.
Many practices have developed new ways of delivering key services such as vaccination programmes or adapted current processes. Can lessons learnt during this rapid reconfiguration of immunisation services, help identify opportunities to further enhance and improve other key public health initiatives such as seasonal flu, screening and health checks in the future?
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Working with our Improving Immunisation Uptake team, the Primary Care Team in SCW continues to provide support and direction to practices, Primary Care Networks and federations in working to successfully implement new care models, develop connections and work collaboratively within Integrated Care Systems.
Our aim is to enable health and care systems to achieve the best possible outcomes for people, communities and populations