Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust’s School Nursing Immunisations Team has been shortlisted for a Nursing Times Award. The team of school nurses and redeployed Trust staff has been recognised for delivering a highly successful school-based vaccination programme throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
They were the only team in the country to continue vaccinating in schools for the first few weeks. As a result, they were able to vaccinate 7,000 children and young people during the first lockdown. This was more than ever before in a comparable period.
After Public Health England (PHE) paused all school-based immunisations at the start of the pandemic, the Bucks team worked closely with PHE, the Trust’s Infection Prevention and Control Team and local schools. The team wrote risk assessments and planned innovative and safe ways of working to enable the school vaccination programme to continue during a pandemic, which were signed off and approved by PHE. The team followed government guidelines with regards to PPE and social distancing, visited schools the day before immunisation sessions to prepare signage and floor markers and phoned every parent beforehand to ask if they were shielding, isolating or, if they were feeling well, would they want to bring their child in for a vaccination appointment. Later on, the team also set up marquees for drive-through vaccination clinics for school-aged children.
Sam Smissen, Buckinghamshire Immunisation Team Lead, said: “COVID or no COVID, as a team we thought it was important to try and continue to prevent other outbreaks of diseases in the community. Parents were concerned children would miss their vaccines and were calling GPs.
“Our aim was to vaccinate as many children and young people as possible but, by continuing our programme, we were also able to provide young people, many of whom had had their lives and education disrupted, with access to a healthcare professional. This person would not only vaccinate them but could potentially pick up any other worries they might have – whether a safeguarding issue or to support the young person with their mental health and wellbeing.”