From January 2018, all routine adolescent immunisations in Hampshire will be offered through a schools based programme.
Previously, only North East Hampshire and Basingstoke were providing life-saving immunisations for tetanus, diphtheria, polio (Td/IPV) and meningitis ACWY in schools. In the rest of the county, including Southampton and Portsmouth, eligible patients were invited to make an appointment for the vaccines at their GP surgery.
Uptake of these vaccines at GP surgeries is currently low but there is strong evidence that providing immunisations in schools increases uptake. In Dorset, a school based programme has been in place for several years and nationally between 70-80% of eligible teenagers receive the vaccine annually.
It’s likely that uptake is higher in schools because it is more convenient for teenagers. However, parents still have the choice to arrange for their children’s vaccinations to be given at their GP practice, if they prefer.
High immunisation rates are critical in preventing the spread of infectious disease, complications and potential early death via both individual and herd immunity. Clare Simpson Consultant in Public Health who leads on Screening and Immunisation for NHS England (South East and South West) said:
“We are really pleased that these important adolescent immunisations will now be offered in schools in Hampshire, Southampton and Portsmouth to pupils in year 9. This will help to protect more young people from the devastating effects of meningitis and other vaccine preventable diseases. It will also help to control the spread of the disease in the wider population”.
The school leaver (Td/IPV) booster vaccine completes the TDP course, providing long-term protection against tetanus, diphtheria and polio. It is giving to young people at around 13-14 years of age. Both tetanus and diphtheria are painful, sometimes fatal, diseases that affect the nervous system and cause breathing problems. Polio is a virus that can cause permanent paralysis of muscles. If it affects the chest muscles or the brain, it can kill. If you think you or your child has missed your Td/IPV booster, contact your GP surgery.
All over 14-year-olds in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight are eligible for the MenACWY vaccine. This protects against meningitis and septicaemia, both of which can be deadly or leave people with life-changing disabilities.
Cases of meningitis and septicaemia caused by the aggressive meningitis W strain are on the rise and young people are particularly at risk as they can be carriers of the disease. Being in confined environments with close contact, such as university halls, hostels when travelling, or attending festivals, increase the chances of infection if unprotected.
The MenACWY vaccine is the best form of protection against these deadly diseases. Anyone who is eligible and has missed vaccination in previous years can take up the vaccine up to their 25th birthday.