The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has issued a statement on immunisation prioritisation during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The statement stresses that “during this time it is very important to maintain our national immunisation programme.”
“This will avoid outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases and allow us to provide important protection to children and other vulnerable groups. It will also avoid increasing further the numbers of patients requiring health services because of vaccine-preventable diseases.”
The national immunisation programme is highly successful in reducing the incidence of serious and sometimes life-threatening diseases such as pneumococcal and meningococcal infections, whooping cough, diphtheria and measles, and the JCVI warned that it is important to maintain the best possible vaccine uptake to prevent a resurgence of these infections. Most children suffer from a very minor illness with COVID-19, the JCVI statement notes.
The routine immunisation programme should thus be maintained, the JCVI says.
Where practices experience high demand on services, it is important to prioritise time-sensitive vaccines for babies, children and pregnant women:
- routine childhood immunisations (to include targeted neonatal hepatitis B and Bacille Calmette-Guérin vaccine) from birth up to and including vaccines offered to babies, infants and pre-school children, including first and second measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine doses;
- pertussis vaccination in pregnancy; and
- pneumococcal vaccination for those in risk groups from two years to 64 years of age and those aged 65 years and over (subject to supplies of pneumococcal conjugate vaccine 23 and clinical prioritisation).
If people present for any other scheduled vaccination, the opportunity to provide this should not be missed.
Providing those attending for vaccination (including parents of babies) are well, are not displaying symptoms of COVID-19 or other infections and are not self-isolating because they are contacts of suspected COVID-19 cases, immunisation should proceed, said the JCVI.