In the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic, Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust (LPT)’s community immunisations team is proactively working to find innovative ways to continue its schools vaccination programme and ensure secondary school pupils currently not in school do not miss out on important vaccinations.
One such solution has been developed in partnership with the Loughborough Schools Foundation, and on Monday 6 July, the immunisations team delivered the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccination to some 180 of its Year 8 pupils, helping to ensure they receive the protection they need. The team also offered the teenage booster (Diphtheria, Tetanus and Polio) and Meningococcal ACWY vaccinations to those pupils who have missed previous opportunities to have them.
The Foundation allowed the team to commandeer its new sports complex; a venue which is big enough for social distancing to be carried out effectively, and which also provides handwashing facilities and space for immunisations professionals to change their personal protective equipment (PPE).
The Schools have ensured that social distancing signage and 2 metre markings are in place, and tutor groups have been given allocated time slots to attend. A one-way system will be in operation, and parents/carers will be directed to a dedicated waiting area outside of the hall.
The Schools’ community has also been hugely supportive of the initiative, bringing pupils onto the campus especially to receive the vaccination. The vaccination is only being offered to those whose home address is outside the current lockdown area for Leicester. However, many other venues are currently being scoped so that further such clinics can be offered in the coming weeks to young people across Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland.
There are more than 200 strains of HPV, but this vaccine protects against the four most dangerous, which can cause various cancers, including cervical cancer, penile and anal cancer and some throat cancers. The vaccine is administered via a small injection at the top of the arm which only takes a few seconds. Two doses are required to give full protection, and these are normally offered between six and 24 months apart for maximum effectiveness. The vaccination programme targets 12 and 13 year olds in Year 8, since as they grow their levels of resistance will also increase. Last year, the vaccine was offered to boys as well as girls for the first time, helping to prevent more cases of HPV-related cancers in people of both sexes.
Suzanne Leatherland, community immunisations lead at the LPT said: “We are really keen to work closely with schools, families and the wider community to ensure young people don’t fall behind with their vaccinations. We have been exploring the possibilities of ‘pop-up’ immunisations clinics at a number of different venues. It’s brilliant that Loughborough Schools Foundation has been so proactive in working with us, and delivering the vaccinations in this context is helping us take positive steps to plan for the running of our normal programmes from September, when all pupils will be back at school, but we will still be operating in the context of Covid-19.”
Helen Foster from Loughborough Schools Foundation said: “The health and wellbeing of our pupils is paramount, and so when LPT approached us, we were very keen to find a way that we could offer this opportunity. It’s great that so many of our families have taken up this offer.”
LPT’s Health for Teens website provides lots of information and myth-busting advice for young people about HPV, including a new video ‘HPV: Your Questions Answered’ featuring two immunisations nurses (www.healthforteens.co.uk/health/immunisation). More information about the schools vaccination programme is available at: www.leicspart.nhs.uk/service/communityimms, and you can contact the team by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.