- The administration side of the programme is too much for the schools administrators. Is this happening again this year?
Unfortunately at this present time, the Child Health Information Service (CHIS) can only accept the information in a specific format which enables them to update the children’s health records, however we are taking on board this feedback from the schools and will continue to try and improve this side of the service where possible. Kernow Health takes these concerns very seriously and we will do all we can to find mutually acceptable solutions. We will be collecting the consent forms from schools prior to the day of the immunisations so that we can take as much administrative burden from the schools as possible.
- Will schools receive the information about viral shedding, which is a very big concern for the schools and parents?
We will be sending this to all schools in June and again in September. A very small number of parents had expressed concerns last year that schools would be full of the flu virus on the day of immunisations, but hopefully the letter will de-mystify some of the misinformation which is often circulated.
- Do schools actually have to take part in the programme? Can you force them to do this?
Schools cannot be forced to take part, but we would respectfully question the reasons why any school would not wish their children to be as healthy as possible and to be given the opportunity to access a free, vital service. You may have heard of ‘herding’ which basically means in this context that the more children we vaccinate, the greater the immunity against flu in the wider population; this makes for healthy children, healthy families and healthy teachers. Parents can make the decision about whether they want their child vaccinated by signing the consent form with either ‘yes’ or ‘no’.
4. Where did the agreement for this to happen in schools in Cornwall come from?
The schools immunisation programme has been operating across the country for many years and in 2016 NHS England made the decision to no longer commission some school age immunisations from General Practice in Cornwall. One of the reasons for changing the model of delivery was due to the low uptake of flu immunisations in Surgeries (around 20% uptake). The contract went out to tender under procurement rules and was won by Kernow Health in July 2016. This means we are delivering the programme on behalf of NHS England for specific cohorts of children, including those who are home-educated, as long as they are within the age-range specified in the contract. We immunised years 1, 2 and 3 against flu last year and from October this year we will include year 4 and Reception: the variation to the contract was set by NHS England. From the outset, Kernow Health has worked closely with the Local Authority, CAPH (and CASH), NHS England and Public Health England to ensure the service would be a success in Cornwall.
5. Some schools and parents do not actually want this service to be delivered in schools. Do they have a choice?
General Practice is no longer able to administer the vaccines for the years stated unless a child is considered to be in an ‘at risk’ category, e.g. being treated for cancer or severely asthmatic.