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Childhood Immunisations


Immunisation

Immunisation is one of the greatest medical interventions worldwide; it has reduced the number of deaths from infectious diseases by 2 to 3 million a year, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Most childhood infectious diseases are vaccine preventable. The United Kingdom (UK) immunisation programme has developed considerably over the years and the complexity of the current schedule can be challenging.

The immunisation schedule has been designed to provide early protection against infectious diseases that are most dangerous for the very young, with booster doses for some vaccines given throughout life to provide ongoing protection. Every effort should be made to ensure that all children are immunised and general practice nurses (GPNs) are in a position to have a positive influence on parents or guardians vaccinating their children.

There are many factors that may influence parents or guardians in their decision-making regarding vaccination, such as: attitudes, personal experience, health beliefs, knowledge of the diseases, the media and health care professionals. The rarity of many infectious diseases that used to be commonplace means the perceived risk of disease is low, therefore parents may be more concerned about the safety of the vaccines than the illnesses they are designed to prevent. GPNs are ideally placed to explore parents’ and patients’ concerns and misconceptions about vaccination.

As the majority of vaccines are delivered in general practice, GPNs are pivotal in conveying accurate and up to date information. It is therefore essential to be familiar not only with the schedule and the vaccines that you administer, but also be able to answer parents’ and guardians’ questions and concerns.

This resource comprises five assessment questions at basic level, to test your knowledge of the UK childhood immunisation schedule. Complete the resource, including the further reading and some or all of the suggested activities, to obtain a certificate for one hour of continuing professional development to include in your revalidation portfolio.

Aims

  • To provide the most up to date and accurate information
  • The safe and effective delivery of vaccines

Learning outcomes

After completing this resource you will be able to:

  • Demonstrate understanding of the rationale for the revised recommendations to the administration of more than one live vaccine
  • Demonstrate understanding of the introduction of the meningitis ACWY programme
  • Demonstrate understanding of the changes to human papilloma virus (HPV) programme
  • Clearly explain to patients the reasons why multiple vaccines cannot overload the immune system
  • Demonstrate awareness that vaccine guidance may change, and awareness of the need to access the most up to date information.

Practice Nurse featured articles

Masterclass: Childhood immunisation Dr Mary Lowth

hy are we vaccinating children against flu? Tina Bishop, Mandy Galloway

Further training resources

Public Health England. National minimum standards and core curriculum for immunisation training of healthcare support workers, 2015 

Health Protection Agency. National minimum standards for immunisation training, 2005 

Health Protection Agency. Core curriculum for immunisation training, 2005. 

Public Health England & RCN. Immunisation knowledge and skills competence assessment tool, 2015

Immunisations UK. For a range of training courses for immunisers (fee paying). http://immunisationsuk.co.uk/training/

Public Helath England. Vaccine update. Sign up to receive regular updates and news on vaccine-related topics at https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/vaccine-update