Immunisations

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Immunisations are a key tool in our defence against infectious diseases, and it is thanks to immunisation that many previously common illnesses now fortunately occur infrequently. Immunisation delivered in childhood help provide the best start in life, and after infancy, some are given in school by the School Aged Immunisation Service. Having high levels of immunity against vaccine preventable diseases is essential in reducing infectious diseases, and high levels of immunity can result in herd immunity, whereby protection is conveyed to those individuals who are unable to be vaccinated.  

Delivering immunisations in school is useful as can make access to vaccination and healthcare easier for all, and so can help to reduce health inequalities. Education settings have a central role to play in supporting routine immunisations, including through sharing information with parents and caregivers and being a point of contact.  

Who is eligible for flu vaccine each year is determined by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI). The programme aims to provide direct protection to those who are at higher risk of flu associated illness and to reduce transmission to all age groups through vaccination of children. Flu vaccinations are given in the form of a nasal spray for children aged 2-17.  

The HPV vaccine helps protect against the strain of human papillomavirus that can cause cancer, including cervical, throat and mouth, and anal and genital cancers, and also genital warts. HPV is spread through close and sexual contact, and so in England, all pupils aged 12-13 years are routinely offered the HPV vaccine when they’re in Year 8, as it should ideally be given prior to becoming sexually active. The 2nd dose is offered 6-24 months after the first. Previously the vaccine was only offered to girls and was considered the ‘cervical cancer vaccine’, but universal vaccination offers the best protection, both for individual and herd immunity.   

The teenage booster, also known as the 3-in-1 or Td/IPV vaccine is given to boost protection against 3 separate diseases, tetanus, diphtheria, and polio. The MenACWY vaccine is also given at the same time routinely in year 9. 

Giving consent for vaccination

Although parents are asked to provide consent for vaccination, legally children under the age of 16 are able to provide consent themselves if a healthcare professional deems them to be Gillick competent. This relates to the child or young person’s capacity to consent and includes: 

Anti-vaccination

Vaccination can sometimes be a divisive topic. If you experience any anti-vaccination activity, the process for reporting and managing this can be found NHS Devon anti-vaccination update guidance  

Essential Signposting

Resources

A teaching resource has been co-produced by young people and researchers from the University of Bristol and London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine on the HPV Vaccine.  The lesson aims to support young people to understand the HPV vaccination which is routinely offered to Years 8 & 9.  This resource would be particularly useful to deliver to Year 8 students ahead of the school immunisation team visiting your school, however, it can be delivered at any time.  In the South West there has been a reduction in the number of young people receiving their HPV vaccines since the COVID-19 pandemic and we would like to support promotion of the vaccine.    

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