NHS guidance on immunisations and screening during COVID-19 pandemic
The NHS has released new guidance on vaccination appointments and screening.
NHS England is urging people to attend all regular vaccination appointments to prevent outbreaks of serious diseases and reduce pressure on the health service.
The NHS is continuing to help people to manage illness linked to coronavirus but is still urging parents to bring children forward for lifesaving jabs to stop killer diseases like measles and mumps. Pregnant women also need to attend for the routine pertussis (whooping cough) vaccine.
Essential, routine vaccinations like the MMR jab can save a child’s life and are available through family doctors. As long as those attending appointments, including parents of babies or children, do not have symptoms or are not self-isolating because someone in the household is displaying coronavirus symptoms, all scheduled vaccinations should go ahead as normal.
Dr Nikita Kanani, NHS England Medical Director for Primary Care, said:
“While the NHS is taking unprecedented measures to protect people from coronavirus, local services are working hard to ensure that people including babies, children and pregnant women still receive their routine vaccinations – they provide essential protection against potentially life-threatening diseases.”
The national immunisation programme is highly successful in reducing the number of serious and life-threatening diseases such as whooping cough, diphtheria and measles. High vaccine uptake can prevent a resurgence of infections, which can cause harm and put unnecessary added pressure on the NHS.
GP surgeries are taking all necessary precautions to ensure those attending for vaccinations can do so safely. If you think you or your child has missed a vaccination appointment, please call your GP surgery to rearrange.
A full list of vaccinations and when they are available, for children and adults, can be found at www.nhs.uk/vaccinations
The NHS runs several screening programmes, the vast majority of which have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
However, antenatal and new-born baby screening is continuing and pregnant women are encouraged to attend all their antenatal appointments.
Other NHS screening programmes are starting to be restored following the local postponement of some screening invitations due to coronavirus.
The programmes include:
- Breast screening
- Bowel screening
- Cervical screening
- Diabetic eye screening
- Screening for abdominal aortic aneurysms.
The current focus is on clearing the backlog of appointments that has built up, and people at high risk, and those with positive screening results are being prioritised. The second phase will be to start issuing new invitations again.
Anyone with concerns about potential symptoms of cancer should contact their GP surgery.