Helen Donovan

Managing childhood vaccination clinics during COVID-19: risks and solutions

Managing childhood vaccination clinics during COVID-19: risks and solutions

What to consider so childhood vaccination clinics continue and parents are supported

Measles is a potentially life-threatening condition Picture: Science Photo Library

Stop blaming the anti-vax bogeyman and focus on immunisation services

Investing in nurses and resources to educate parents is more pressing than battling fake news

Public health nurses face being denied NHS pay rises

A funding complication could result in some public health nurses leaving

Calorie labelling is welcome, but it won’t solve the obesity crisis

Compulsory labels can’t alone turn the tide, says RCN’s Helen Donovan

Immunisation

Why immunisation training matters

Vaccines are highly effective at reducing infectious disease and are recognised by the World Health Organization as second only to clean water at effectively controlling disease ( Andre et al 2008 ). The success of any vaccine programme relies on enough people being vaccinated to control or stop the spread of infections. In the UK, numerous different vaccines have been successfully introduced over the past 50 years and many once common infections are now rarely seen. To ensure continued disease control, it is essential to maintain a high vaccine uptake and to make sure that vaccines are given safely and effectively. To achieve this, those who advise on and/or administer vaccines need to be knowledgeable and skilled. They also need to be able to answer patients’ and parents’ questions confidently and accurately, and be able to explain why vaccines are needed, while dispelling any myths or concerns that may arise. This article discusses the revised national immunisation training standards and core curriculum ( Public Health England 2018 ) and highlights the supporting resources which are available for all healthcare professionals with a role in immunisation to help them to be confident, competent, well-informed and up to date.

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Public health

Nurses’ role in public health and integration of health and social care

This article examines the findings of a Royal College of Nursing (RCN) survey, The Value and Contribution of Nursing to Public Health in the UK: Final report ( Donovan and Davies 2016 ), on the value of public health nursing and nurses’ role in shaping the integration of health and social care. The prevention of ill health is important across all the UK’s government health policies as they place an emphasis on improving health and supporting people not just to live longer, but to stay healthy. Integration of care means aligning health and social services and making sure that they are ‘person-centred’, designed to meet the needs of individuals across care pathways which are ‘place-based’ where people are living and working. To meet the unprecedented challenges of increasing population demands and financial pressures in health and care services, improving the public’s health and better integration of services are fundamental. Nurses and midwives are in a unique position to support and drive this improvement because of the regular and frequent contact they have with people. The survey highlights the value of the contribution they can make to public health and the associated knowledge and skills required to undertake such work

domestic

Domestic abuse: what healthcare professionals need to know

Carmel Bagness and Helen Donovan, who are leading the RCN’s online resources on domestic abuse, explain what you need to know to identify and support victims

Immunisation: Changes in the UK for Children and Young People

Vaccination programmes are implemented either in response to a specific situation, or as new vaccines become available or evidence about them accumulates. Significant changes to the UK child and adolescent immunisation schedule have been implemented from 2013. Rotavirus vaccine was introduced for infants in July 2013. The influenza vaccination programme is being extended to include all two to 16 year olds eventually and, since September 2013, is being offered to all two and three year olds. To ensure protection against meningococcal C infection into adulthood, the immunisation schedule has been further modified. Since October 2012, in response to an increase in the number of cases of pertussis, particularly among young babies, all pregnant women have been offered a pertussis-containing vaccine during the last trimester of pregnancy. Large outbreaks of measles, particularly in Swansea and the north east of England, prompted a national campaign that was launched in April 2013 to ensure that all children and young people have received two doses of measles, mumps and rubella vaccine.

Changes to this year’s immunisation schedule

The Department of Health has made significant changes to the universal immunisation schedule: two doses of rotavirus vaccine are to be offered for all infants, influenza vaccine for all two-year-old children and a shingles vaccine for all 70 year olds. In addition, one dose of meningococcal C vaccine for infants will be dropped and another added to the teenage booster. All these changes will be of benefit, but will require additional resources and some parents may be unclear about the advantages to their child of the additional vaccines.

Talking with parents about immunisation

This article is aimed at all those involved with immunisation. It is important that everyone who provides parents and carers with information about immunisation knows where and how to get useful and, more importantly, reputable resources and information to support parents. This includes those involved in giving vaccines as well as those advising and discussing immunisation. Maintaining trust in the programme is paramount and staff have to be up to date and knowledgeable. The vaccination rate in the UK is rising, which suggests that parents are generally satisfied with the immunisation process. There is, however, still room for improvement and evidence to suggest that a significant proportion have criticisms. These mainly relate to the information given being biased, unbalanced or inconsistent. It is sometimes difficult to discriminate between authoritative evidence-based sources and those based on anecdote and misinformation that often adopt an anti-vaccination position. It is important that health professionals do not underestimate the power of these negative messages. This article discusses how to respond to some frequently asked questions and where staff can go to access useful and reliable information and where to direct parents and carers to look.