Plans to vaccinate children against COVID-19 and roll out booster jab could be hampered by child-protection protocols and widespread pressure due to a shortage of vaccinators in parts of England, as well as an upcoming flu vaccination programme.
A single dose of the vaccine will be offered to all 12 to 15-year-olds from the end of this month, with millions of elderly and medically vulnerable adults getting ready for a third dose.
These rollouts will coincide with the largest flu vaccination program in NHS history, offering the jab or nasal spray vaccine to more than 35 million people, as health officials try to step up UK protections, which are “very It will be a hard winter”. “
But a member of the Joint Committee on Immunization and Immunization (JCVI) said logistics “will not be easy”, while other experts have warned of challenges in delivering booster jabs, child COVID vaccination and flu jabs at the same time.
With the focus on COVID and flu, there is also concern that the administration of vaccines against other infections such as human papillomavirus (HPV) may be affected.
According to the minutes of a JCVI meeting held in June, teen vaccinations across the UK have dropped by 20 per cent during the pandemic.
For now, there is uncertainty about how the booster and child COVID vaccination programs will be delivered together.
The JCVI member said vaccinator shortages are a “real issue”, adding that “the pressure of the NHS winter will only exacerbate it”.
In Brighton, emails were circulated between local GPs last Wednesday calling for more vaccineers at the city’s racecourse hub due to staff shortages. “They are struggling,” said a local doctor.
More generally, invitations to participate in the booster program have been sent to practices across the country in recent weeks, as many have closed their immunization services over the summer to focus on caring for local patients.
“Primary care has done a great job in delivering these vaccines,” said Dr Bharat Pankhania, a senior clinical lecturer at the University of Exeter. “If the same model is used, it is easier and better. Provided GPs are supported enough, they can do this.”
Dr Elaine Maxwell, a scientific advisor at the National Institute for Health Research, said there is also the option of turning to temporary vaccinators, who initially signed up to administer COVID jabs and later to retired healthcare workers and St. John’s Ambulance. Along with the employees stood down. (NIHR).
After four UK chief medical officers recommended that all 12 to 15-year-olds receive a single dose of the Pfizer vaccine, experts are envisioning major challenges in vaccinating children.
Only vaccinators who are qualified to work with children will be able to arrange jabs in schools, making it far more difficult to recruit an army of volunteers suitable for the program.
Dr Pankhania, a former Public Health England consultant on communicable disease control, said, “Suddenly having too many vaccines is a tall order, especially in sensitive places like schools.”
“We prefer that they have a security clearance. You cannot employ everyone. There are issues of child safety. It requires training, time and effort. There are obstacles.”
School students under the age of 17 will also be offered the flu vaccine before the expected resurgence in virus cases during the winter season. The JCVI member said this is likely to impact the delivery of childhood vaccines.
“The supply of vaccines for under-18s is not the same as in the rest of the country. They are a very specific group of people, and their focus on COVID and flu will affect their ability to immunize people with other vaccines,” he said.
Dr Joe Pzak, public governor of the West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust and former director of education for Leicester City Council, said he was “aware of issues relating to the shortage of school nurses” who generally provide “both universal and targeted services” in education. are” adjustments.
“Years of cutbacks, and school budget constraints, mean that only schools with the financial resources will be able to invest in this important service,” he said.
“There is also increasingly hard pressure on local NHS services, not least because of the pandemic, potentially with fewer staff available in our health and education services.
“The logistics are definitely going to be complicated.”
It is understood that some NHS trusts have already written to schools and colleges asking for the dates by which they expect all their eligible children to be vaccinated.
With regard to adult immunization, Ministers are counting on the option of giving eligible groups a third COVID vaccine dose and the flu vaccine at the same time.
A study known as ComFluCov is examining whether it is safe and effective to give both jabs together, but it is unclear when the research findings will be presented to government advisors.
Credit: www.independent.co.uk /