The government’s plans to offer the first dose of COVID-19 immunisation to the 3 million 12-15 year olds by the autumn half term seemed ambitious to say the least. It seems now that worries about the viability of delivering the campaign in this timeframe were grounded in reality.
With the autumn half term now just 2 weeks away, there have been widespread delays across the country. These delays are due to a mix of insufficient staffing and administrative resources, conflicts with pre-existing vaccination schedules, and a growing number of misinformation campaigns undermining some parent’s confidence in the vaccination.
Are there enough school nurses to deliver COVID-19
immunisation to 12-15s?
It’s no secret that funding for school nursing is lower than ever with teams needing to cover more and more responsibilities with fewer resources. A 2019 report from the Royal College of Nurses revealed that school nurse numbers had dropped by 30% since 2010, as a result of shrinking budgets. Further studies suggest that numbers have dropped 11% since 2015.
This is all alongside the expansion to the autumn flu campaign, to now include all secondary-aged children up to Year 11 (you can read our previous post on this, here!). But the truth is that previously stretched vaccination teams are often struggling to cope with the increased vaccinations workload.
One provider is even quoted as saying: “we have no staff, we have no resources, we can’t come back”.
Vaccination teams are also often hampered by relying on old manual administration for consent, data and reporting management. Providers who have adapted to digital immunisation campaign management have found the transition – and the drastic increase in workload – far easier to manage, enabling School Nursing teams to focus on delivering the vaccine, with the paperwork and data burden eliminated by automating the previous manual processes. And automating consent (‘e-Consent’) can also increase uptake.
Other obstacles to the delivery of COVID-19 Immunisation for 12-15 Year Olds
Although staffing and time-constraints seem to be the primary effector of delays on the rollout of COVID-19 immunisation for 12-15s, there are also other factors.
Obstacle #1: Pre-existing Vaccination Schedules
Many students are finding that other routine immunisations, such as the human papillomavirus (HPV) schedule, are conflicting with the delivery of COVID-19 immunisation to 12-15 year olds. This is also amplified by the increasing spread of COVID through many schools in the short time since they have reopened.
A child cannot be inoculated if they have tested positive for COVID-19, or received another immunisation, within the past 28 days. This means many children are ineligible for immunisation on the day that the school aged immunisation service provider may visit.
Obstacle #2: Parental Consent & Misinformation
The other main factor is parental consent. Growing misinformation campaigns have undermined confidence of some parents in the safety of the vaccine. Some schools have even inadvertently shared anti-vaccination propaganda, sent to them disguised as an NHS form. Anti-vaccination protestors have started picketing outside of schools, threatening parents & children, and spreading incorrect information regarding the efficacy and safety of COVID-19 immunisation for 12-15s.
Despite efforts from school leaders & Public Health England to publish trustworthy resources that can vouch for the safety of the immunisation programme, there is still a lot of resistance within certain groups.
Are You a School Aged Immunisation Service Provider delivering COVID-19 Immunisation to 12-15s?
If you and your colleagues have found the past month to be challenging, SchoolScreener could be worth a minute of your time. We have worked directly alongside providers for a decade to develop a bespoke suite of software. Our goal? To save you as much time and effort as we can, so you have more time to deliver the essential services you have been hired for.
Not filling out thousands of consent forms and manually managing/collecting data and reporting.
Leave that stuff to a computer.
If that sounds like something you might be interested in, simply take a short look at our products page to get more of an understanding of the type of services we can offer:
Or contact us, to arrange a no-obligation, free product demonstration, here: