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Public Health England guidance on maintaining immunisations during COVID-19

Elderly person receiving vaccination

Public Health England (PHE) has issued clinical guidance for healthcare professionals on keeping up routine immunisations wherever possible.

PHE notes that while factors such as social distancing and reduced travel overseas are reducing the risk of transmission of non-COVID-19 infectious diseases as well as COVID-19, many vaccine preventable diseases are more infectious than COVID-19 – for example, measles is six times more infectious – so it vaccination is the only reliable way of ensuring protection.

In addition, for some vaccine preventable diseases, people can carry the organism for months or even years. This means infections such as meningococcal, haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib), and pneumococcal infection are therefore most commonly acquired from other people in their own household.

General practice measures

The guidance notes that general practice in particular should ensure anyone who has had their appointment cancelled because of COVID-19 should be invited for vaccination as soon as possible.

And practices should also keep up non-scheduled vaccinations, for example to control outbreaks of vaccine preventable diseases, as well as opportunistically to provide, for example, catch-up doses of MMR.

They should inform parents, carers and patients of the importance of completing routine immunisations on time to protect them from life-threatening infections.

And practices should reassure patients that the latest guidance on maintaining social distance is adhered to in waiting areas and that decontamination of premises and equipment is being strictly followed in line with PHE Infection Prevention and Control. This may mean adjusting appointment times to avoid waiting with others.

The full document is available on the PHE website or you can download it here by clicking the ‘download pdf’ button below.

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