Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, primary care services have faced unprecedented challenges in delivering both the COVID-19 vaccination rollout and the continued delivery of the national childhood immunisation programme.
At the start of European and World immunisation awareness week 2021, it was a great time to reflect on and learn from previous and future challenges facing primary care in delivering the childhood immunisation programme.
Many practices developed new ways of delivering key services such as vaccination programmes or adapted current processes during the Coronavirus pandemic, working collaboratively across PCN’s, to help ensure the childhood immunisation programme continued, alongside the successful rollout of the COVID19 vaccine.
During the COVID19 pandemic, SCW’s CHIS data informatics team provided vital monthly updates to the IIU team and commissioners, enabling targeted and timely support to be provided to practices requiring additional support, to maintain their childhood immunisation uptake rates.
Despite the successes gained in childhood immunisation uptake rates over recent years, a number of ongoing/future challenges remain for primary care colleagues in delivering the childhood immunisation programme.
- Vaccine hesitancy.
- The World Health Organisation (WHO) listed vaccine hesitancy as one of the 10 ten threats to health for 2019. The reasons why individuals choose not to vaccinate are complex. However, the WHO have identified 3 key reasons; complacency, inconvenience in accessing vaccines and lack of confidence.
- Reducing inequalities in vaccination access and variation in immunisation uptake.
- Competing priorities for General Practice.
- Greater partnership working with colleagues outside of general practice teams eg. PCN’s, CCG’s, ICS’s and local authorities, Health Visitors, School Health Nurses, Social Workers and wider stakeholders.
- Availability of timely/flexible appointments.
- Data quality.
The recent changes to the Quality Outcomes Framework (QOF) reflect the fact that childhood immunisations remain a key priority for primary care. The IIU team have recently produced a paper (due for release in May 2021), discussing how their work with primary care colleagues since 2018, has helped identify and address key challenges affecting childhood immunisation uptake rates. Working in partnership with primary care colleagues, the IIU team initiative has delivered a significant reduction in the variation of immunisation uptake across the Thames Valley and overall increase in uptake of childhood immunisations.
Can lessons learnt from identifying ongoing challenges, help identify opportunities to further enhance and improve uptake rates for the childhood immunisation programme in the future?
Answers on a postcard to …