The Royal College of Nursing is encouraging the maintenance of childhood immunisation programmes, in light of research showing that the number MMR vaccinations has fallen this year.
The research, published in the British Medical Journal, assessed the impact of COVID-19 on immunisation by analysing electronic health records up to the 26thof April. The researchers found that MMR vaccinations are down by almost a fifth in the three weeks following the introduction of social distancing measures, compared to the same period in 2019. This is concerning, as falls in immunisation rates can lead to increases in deaths, according to the RCN. The World Health Organization estimates that immunisation prevents between two and three million deaths per year.
Consequently, the College has released guidance for nursing staff on maintaining normal vaccination programmes during the COVID-19 pandemic. This guidance includes completing pre-immunisation discussions vis telephone consultation and sending information on post-immunisation practice to parents via text or email, to minimise the time spent at the practice.
Helen Donovan, RCN Lead for Public Health, commented that ‘the vaccination programme remains vital for public health now and for the future’. She went on to assure that while it is ‘understandable that parents will have concerns’ about entering surgeries at this time, ‘measures are in place to provide a safe environment for vaccinations to take place’.