Implementation of the United Kingdom's childhood influenza national vaccination programme: A review of clinical impact and lessons learned over six influenza seasons

Vaccine. 2020 Aug 10;38(36):5747-5758. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2020.06.065. Epub 2020 Jul 21.

Abstract

In 2012, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation recommended that the United Kingdom's (UK) National Vaccination Programme (NVP) for influenza was extended to include healthy children and adolescents aged 2 to <17 years. Previously, the UK's NVP focused on seasonal vaccination of the elderly and people (including children) with underlying health conditions that put them at high risk of hospitalisation if they contracted influenza. The extension of the UK's programme began in the 2013/14 influenza season through the vaccination of children aged 2-3 years in primary care across England and the devolved administrations of Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. School-aged children were generally vaccinated in a school setting, with several implementation pilots in England and Scotland. Due to the scale of the programme, it has been phased in over several years and expanded to include broader childhood age groups. This article reviews the experiences from the implementation of the UK's childhood influenza NVP over the first six influenza seasons (between 2013/14 and 2018/19) from the perspectives of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. The processes used to deliver the vaccination programme in general practice and the school-based setting are described in terms of governance, contracting, workforce management, communication, administrative tasks, vaccination sessions, vaccine supply and distribution, and surveillance. In addition, the available evidence regarding the clinical impact of the UK's childhood influenza NVP over the first six influenza seasons is reviewed. We also share lessons learned from the programme and recommendations to provide guidance to other countries looking to implement childhood influenza vaccination programmes.

Keywords: Children; General practice; Influenza; Schools; United Kingdom; Vaccination.

Publication types

  • Review