The Board received a report from the Director of Public Health that provided information and assurance on the progressing work of the County Durham and Darlington Flu Prevention Board to increase the uptake of the flu vaccination in the local area (for copy see file of Minutes).
The Consultant in Public Health advised that the evaluation carried out had shown that the take up was low for the eligible groups however the board would continue to meet throughout the year to oversee the key actions. He went on to highlight the key actions within the report and advised that County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust had introduced an opt out scheme. They also had a charitable option to promote UNICEF’s get a jab, give a jab campaign.
He went on to inform the board that the Adults, Wellbeing and Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee had requested feedback on geographical area uptake and the benefits for those who have been vaccinated.
Members were advised that appropriate measures were in place in schools and messages from Public Health England were circulated from community teams.
The Corporate Director of Children and Young People’s Services, referring to the Table at Appendix 2 of the report, commented that it was not surprising to see the take up from the over 65s as the highest group at 72%. He noted that the uptake in 2 and 3 year olds in a clinical risk group and those not in a clinical risk was not that different. He asked if there was any follow up for the 2 and 3 years olds that were not vaccinated, as a safeguarding measure. The Consultant in Public Health advised that the data was gathered at a practice level but he assured the board that this issue was being looked at. The Operational Director for Children's and County Wide Community Care Directorate at Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust advised that the vaccination was about choice and although questions would be asked as part of the prevention agenda via GPs, the service would not encourage singling out families who had not vaccinated their younger children.
The Director of Public Health said that this was the first year of having the Flu Prevention Board and there were many complexities around the take up and data available. The risks were now known, and general messages could be given about the take up.
With regards to the myths around the flu vaccination and the perception that you will catch the flu after the injection, the Corporate Director of Adult and Health Services asked how we could address that. The Chief Clinical Officer confirmed that it was a myth and that the vaccine could not give a person flu, as it was not a live vaccine. He added that it was great that the local authority had a campaign to immunise their frontline staff and that we should try to normalise the vaccination process. He also said how important it was for patients to inform their GPs if they had been immunised through other mechanisms, for example, at pharmacies, so that records were kept up-to-date.
Councillor Gunn agreed that normalising vaccinations was key, and she asked that information be publicised more widely in community and voluntary sector organisations, town and parish councils and leisure centres.
Councillor Allen also agreed and asked about incentives to increase take up. The Chief Clinical Officer advised that the CCG raffle an extra day’s holiday for staff for those people who were immunised.
The board were informed that there was no shortage of the vaccines and that GPs had been encouraged to order appropriately to different age groups.
A discussion took place in relation to the possibility of supporting people in financial difficulties who were not eligible to have the vaccination free of cost. The Director of Public Health advised that the current take up of those in eligible groups needs to be higher as those people most at risk from getting flu.
(i) That the report be noted;
(ii) That the work of the County Durham and Darlington Flu Prevention Board be supported;
(iii) That the evaluation of the flu programme in Spring 2020 be received.