Posted: August 13 2020
Despite the challenges of the pandemic and social distancing, families across Hertfordshire have been offered the chance to still get their children vaccinated against life-threatening diseases, such as the human papillomavirus (HPV).
Around 120 families signed up to the second and final jab on Thursday 13 August at the Well End Activity Centre in Borehamwood, required to protect Year 8 children from HPV. Many pupils had missed this important immunisation due to school closures during the pandemic. Hertfordshire Scouts kindly offered this venue as well as volunteering staff to erect gazebos, under which nurses safely delivered the vaccinations. Parents were referred to the Borehamwood clinic and drove to the temporary setup, where nurses greeted them in full PPE gear and administered the HPV 2 injections to the child while sitting in the comfort of their family car. These drive-through, temporary clinics allow teenage children to continue their vaccination schedule without interruption.
This clinic and other similar events have been planned by Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust’s School Aged Immunisation Service, led by Caroline Shepherd who said: "Covid-19 has interrupted all childhood immunisation programmes. Therefore to help make it as easy as possible while maintaining social distancing, we have introduced drive-through clinics across Hertfordshire, such as this one at Borehamwood."
According to feedback from parents, young people and the Immunisation team, such events are proving very popular. Not only does it reduce inconvenience for parents but young people also find the experience less anxious.
Vicky Adams, mother of 13-year old Lily from Borehamwood said: "This is a fantastic idea! Lily had already had her first HPV injection at school but due to Covid-19 had missed out on the chance for her second jab after it closed. It’s so important for Lily to be protected against HPV in the future as an adult. I urge any parent to make sure their child’s vaccinations are fully up to date."
The nurses also like the clinics since the venues help promote a safe and efficient flow of patients for them to immunise. Whereas in a school setting it would take 15 minutes to process each child, the drive through sessions only last 5 minutes.
By developing this innovative approach before schools reopen in the autumn, HCT’s Immunisation Service has been able to refine the logistics. It has also been able to build a strong back-up plan in case a second Covid-19 spike occurs which could result in further school closures.
Hertfordshire is leading the way in offering such drive-through immunisation events, with many NHS trusts hoping to copy the idea nationally. The event in Borehamwood also generated a lot of interest in the east of the country, including Public Health England and other key partner organisations, such as Hertfordshire County Council. Many GPs and visitors from Clinical Commissioning Groups dropped by to learn valuable lessons to help them deliver the national, expanded flu immunisation programme this autumn.
Prof. Jim McManus, Director of Public Health, Hertfordshire County Council said: "I am delighted to see the positive response by families taking up this offer to get their child protected against HPV."
"5% of all cancers worldwide are linked to Human Papillomavirus (HPV). In the next 40 years this vaccine is expected to prevent 29,000 cancers in UK men plus over 64,000 cervical cancer cases in women. These innovative drive-through immunisations events help reduce some of the risks to childhood health caused by social distancing and the pandemic."
"I cannot emphasise more strongly that a child who has had all their vaccinations is the best possible option, equipping them with a healthier future as they grow into adulthood."
Extra community-based clinics are also being planned through the summer, before delivering the normal programme of immunisations at secondary schools once they reopen.
If any parents have enquiries about their secondary child’s immunisations, including HPV, nasal flu, as well as the triple diphtheria/tetanus/polio and the meningitis jab, please call the School Age Immunisation Team on 01727 732 062.
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