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February 2018

Major update of immunisation training standards

Public Health England has published the first major revision to the standards and core curriculum for immunisation training for registered healthcare professionals since 2005.

Substantial revisions have been made to the latest version, with contributions from professional organisations, including the RCN, training providers and immunisation experts from across the UK. A wide consultation was carried out to ensure the views of practitioners delivering immunisations were represented.

The standards document sets out the essential topics that should be incorporated into immunisation training, and a checklist to ensure that training that has been undertaken is comprehensive and meets minimum standards.

PHE says: ‘The UK immunisation programme is a carefully considered, evidence-based, and for most vaccines, an NHS-funded programme. With the ongoing development of new and improved vaccines and the epidemiology of infectious diseases constantly changing, the need to modify or introduce new vaccine programmes occurs frequently.

‘The best programme will fail if those tasked with delivering it are unable to do so effectively, so it is vital that healthcare professionals involved in immunisation receive solid foundation training.’

This includes practitioners who have not previously been involved in delivering immunisations, such as midwives and pharmacists.

PHE adds: ‘Healthcare practitioner knowledge, confidence and attitudes to vaccination are also crucial in achieving high vaccine uptake. Immunisation training is [also] critical in preventing errors in vaccine practice.’

The guidance reminds HCPs that they should only administer or advise on immunisations if they feel competent to do so, and those new to the role should have a period of supervised practice before they start to give vaccines alone.

The core curriculum content covers:

  • The aims of immunisation, national policy and schedules
  • The immune response to vaccines and how they work
  • Vaccine preventable diseases
  • The different types of vaccines, indications and contraindications
  • Legal issues
  • Storage and handling of vaccines
  • Correct administration
  • Anaphylaxis and adverse reactions
  • Documentation
  • Strategies for optimising uptake

‘Immunisation is one of our most successful public health interventions, protecting children and adults and saving thousands of lives every year. Ensuring ongoing public and professional confidence is critical to the success of these programmes. As the incidence of vaccine preventable diseases declines due to the success of immunisation programmes, healthcare practitioners need to be able to explain why vaccinations are still so important.

A high level of knowledge and a positive attitude are important in maintaining high vaccine uptake,’ the guidance concludes.

  • See Childhood immunisations: dealing with the out of the ordinary

PHE. National minimum standards and core curriculum for immunisation training for registered healthcare practitioners, February 2018.

February 2018