Updates to the UK child and adolescent vaccination schedule

May 6, 2016

Source: Nurse Prescribing, 2016, 14 (3), pp. 120-125

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Date of publication: March 2016

Publication Type: Journal Article

In a nutshell: After clean water, immunisation is the most effective public health intervention for the prevention of disease and an important component of the Healthy Child Programme (HCP) (Department of Health (DH), 2009). Nurses working in primary care should be trusted and key sources of advice for parents on the childhood immunisation programme, but keeping up to date can prove challenging in view of frequent changes to the schedule. This article describes the most recent changes, including the introduction of meningococcal B and ACWY vaccines to the schedule and the extension of the influenza vaccine to some older children. The success of the rotavirus programme is described and continuing issues for the maternal pertussis and influenza vaccine programmes are discussed. In addition, possible future changes to the human papillomavirus and hepatitis B programmes are outlined.

Length of publication: 6 page article


Text messaging reminders for influenza vaccine in primary care: a cluster randomised controlled trial

April 11, 2016

Source: BMJ Open2016;6:e010069

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Date of publication: February 2016

Publication Type: Journal Article

In a nutshell: Objectives (1) To develop methods for conducting cluster randomised trials of text messaging interventions utilising routine electronic health records at low cost; (2) to assess the effectiveness of text messaging influenza vaccine reminders in increasing vaccine uptake in patients with chronic conditions. Design Cluster randomised trial with general practices as clusters. Setting English primary care. Participants 156 general practices, who used text messaging software, who had not previously used text message influenza vaccination reminders. Eligible patients were aged 18–64 in ‘at-risk’ groups. Interventions Practices were randomly allocated to either an intervention or standard care arm in the 2013 influenza season (September to December). Practices in the intervention arm were asked to send a text message influenza vaccination reminder to their at-risk patients under 65. Practices in the standard care arm were asked to continue their influenza campaign as planned. Blinding Practices were not blinded. Analysis was performed blinded to practice allocation. Main outcome measures Practice-level influenza vaccine uptake among at-risk patients aged 18–64 years. Results 77 practices were randomised to the intervention group (76 analysed, n at-risk patients=51 121), 79 to the standard care group (79 analysed, n at-risk patients=51 136). The text message increased absolute vaccine uptake by 2.62% (95% CI −0.09% to 5.33%), p=0.058, though this could have been due to chance. Within intervention clusters, a median 21.0% (IQR 10.2% to 47.0%) of eligible patients were sent a text message. The number needed to treat was 7.0 (95% CI −0.29 to 14.3). Conclusions Patient follow-up using routine electronic health records is a low cost method of conducting cluster randomised trials. Text messaging reminders are likely to result in modest improvements in influenza vaccine uptake, but levels of patients being texted need to markedly increase if text messaging reminders are to have much effect.

Length of publication: 12 page article


Jump in winter deaths last year is blamed on ineffective flu vaccine

November 30, 2015

Source: BMJ, 2015;351:h6392

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Date of publication: November 2015

Publication Type: News

In a nutshell: Excess deaths in England and Wales in 2014-15 were the highest for 15 years, the Office for National Statistics has reported, largely because of an ineffective flu vaccine.

Length of publication: 1 page


Managing influenza in primary care

November 30, 2015

Source: Practice Nursing, 2015, 26 (11), pp. 530 – 535

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Date of publication: November 2015

Publication Type: Journal Article

In a nutshell: Practice nurses are a crucial part of the prevention of seasonal influenza in the community—one of the key winter pressures in the NHS. Influenza vaccination clinics are part of one of the most important public health campaigns (Public Health England (PHE), 2015a). Influenza is an acute viral infection of the respiratory tract. It is characterized by a fever, headache, muscle and joint pain, and fatigue. For healthy individuals influenza can be a self-limiting disease, but for those at risk it can have severe complications. This article discusses the epidemiology, presentation, prevention and treatment of influenza in general practice.

Length of publication: 5 page article


Flu jab worked in one in three cases

October 13, 2015

Source: BBC News

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Date of publication: September 2015

Publication Type: News

In a nutshell: Last winter’s flu jab worked in 34% of cases, according to a final report by Public Health England. At one stage early in the season, it was estimated that the vaccine was stopping only three out of every 100 immunised people developing symptoms. But the report said there had been a “shift” in the dominant circulating strains during the rest of the winter. Prof Paul Cosford, from Public Health England, said its effectiveness had been “slightly lower” than usual. Flu is a constantly shifting target making it difficult to develop a vaccine. It is why a new jab is needed each year. Officials are concerned that the drop in the vaccine’s effectiveness may affect uptake this coming winter.

Length of publication: 1-page


Morbidly obese in England could get free flu jab

March 31, 2015

Source: BBC News

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Date of publication: March 2015

Publication Type: News Story

In a nutshell: Morbidly obese people in England should be given a free flu jab on the NHS each year, say government advisers. Public Health England and the government’s vaccine advisory committee are in agreement that obesity poses enough of a health threat to consider including it as one of the “at risk” groups routinely offered the vaccine. It would put obesity in the same league as asthma, diabetes and heart disease. The government is yet to announce whether it will act on the advice.

Length of publication: 1-page news story


Promoting vaccination

February 12, 2015

Source: Practice Nursing, 2015, 26 (1), pp 5–5

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Date of publication: January 2015

Publication Type: Editorial

In a nutshell: The recent publication of the MBRRACE-UK report 2009–2012 (Knight et al, 2014) into maternal deaths in the UK and Ireland has provided a reminder of the importance of the influenza vaccination programme for pregnant women. Although the maternal mortality rate has declined overall, it was found that 29 women died of influenza during pregnancy or up to 6 weeks after giving birth. Worryingly, 62% of these deaths occurred after the vaccine became universally available in pregnancy—suggesting that they could have been prevented if the vaccine had been given.

Length of publication: 1 page editorial