Meningitis ACWY, age cohorts for shingles, catch up campaigns – do immunisation programmes for babies, school children, university students and the older practice population leave you reeling? New vaccines are being introduced all of the time and each guideline/patient group direction (PGD) seems more complicated than the last! Thankfully, help is at hand. The team can access local training arranged by national NHS/public health bodies and there are informative websites1 detailing what goes where (leg/arm/nose) – and when.2 You could display this information in the consulting and treatment rooms, alongside the relevant PGDs, remembering to update these regularly. Importantly, get the team to agree one standard way of recording immunisations so that there is a clear history in the notes.
Turning to this year’s ‘flu (and pneumococcal) immunisation campaign. Are you ready? Has the stock been ordered, do you have adequate storage space or do you need staggered deliveries? Have you designed posters for reception and the local chemists? What about the message on the TV in the waiting room and on the prescriptions?
Dedicated flu clinics are a great way to get through the work – and to team build, eg, Saturday morning sessions where everyone is rewarded with bacon rolls and a sense of achievement. Have you trained your health care assistant (HCA) to administer flu? This would allow you to spread the workload further as well as developing your staff. There is good online advice available3 to ensure your HCA does this safely and legally. Encourage staff to have flu vaccine – this will protect individuals and your staffing levels throughout the winter.
Have you reviewed the handling and storage of vaccines, your cold chain? Do the fridges work properly, and at the correct temperatures (+2° to +8°)? Are the doors often left open? Are the fridges used for the sole purpose of storing vaccines (no-one’s lunch, carton of milk)? Is everything arranged in date order, to use oldest first. Cold chain events are often avoidable and almost always expensive and hugely inconvenient. Make sure your staff minimise the risk of the cold chain being broken and that everyone knows what to do, and who to contact, should it happen.
1. Immunsiation Scotland. When to immunise.
http://www.immunisationscotland.org.uk/when-to-immunise/index.aspx (accessed 17 August 2015)
2. GOV.UK. Immunisation.
https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/immunisation (accessed 17 August 2015)
3. GP online. Legal advice on healthcare assistants giving flu jabs.
http://www.gponline.com/legal-advice-healthcare-assistants-giving-flu-jabs/article/931587 (accessed 17 August 2015)