Wigan nurseries join the fight against flu
Flu vaccines are being given to children at nurseries and play groups in a pilot project to increase take-up rates.
Fewer than half of pre-school children in the borough received the nasal spray last year, which can help to protect them against the illness.
Health chiefs in the borough have launched a pilot project in Worsley Hall to improve vaccination rates.
Instead of going to GP surgeries, the spray can now be given to children in nurseries and at a play group.
Dr Jayne Davies, who is based at the Dicconson Group Practice at Boston House in Wigan, said: “Flu can be very dangerous and lead to serious complications, especially for vulnerable people, such as children. It leads to hundreds of thousands of GP visits and tens of thousands of hospital stays a year.
Apart from protecting individual people, getting the flu vaccine helps to reduce the spread of the disease to family and friends, and so reduces the chance of passing on the flu virus to other people who may be at risk of flu, such as older people.
“In 2017/18 44.1 per cent of two-year-olds and 43.7 per cent of three-year-olds had the vaccine which encouraged partners to trial this new approach in a pocket of Wigan were the level of uptake was lower than others.
“Working with our partners in schools, private nurseries and Start Well Centres we wanted to broaden the opportunities for families to let their children have the flu vaccine.
“The vaccination is a simple nasal spray rather than injection and as part of the drive to encourage more children to have this annual vaccination we worked with nurseries and a children’s play group in the areas to make it easier for families to get vaccinated while at regular sessions.
"This was a great opportunity for practice nurses to get into the community and build relationships and as part of the work it broke down traditional barriers that would see nurses only treat patients from their surgery and vaccinate a larger number of children in a short space of time.”
Promotional material was produced, such as flyers, videos and a social media campaign, to engage families in the project.Consent forms also had to be developed for the vaccinations to be carried out away from surgeries.
Flu vaccine take-up rates for 2018/19 are not yet available, but the pilot project is thought to have been a success.
Dr Davies said: “The trial is being evaluated but we had very positive feedback from parents and are hoping that it can be rolled out across the borough for the next flu season which will help to improve the numbers of younger children having the flu vaccine.
"There is also scope for this innovative project to be replicated for a range of different purposes.”