New needle-free flu vaccine at North Manchester General Hospital is not to be sniffed at!

Flu nasal spray crop
New needle-free flu vaccine at North Manchester General Hospital is not to be sniffed at!
05 October 2016

AN innovative public health initiative which has been launched at North Manchester General Hospital is not to be sniffed at in the fight against flu!

As part of this year’s national flu programme, pre-school children and older children in at risk groups who attend the paediatric emergency department at North Manchester General Hospital will be offered a needle-free flu vaccine.

The pilot, organised by Dr Rachel Isba, consultant in paediatric public health medicine and who works in the emergency department, is believed to be the first of its kind in the country and is being organised in conjunction with colleagues in Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership (GMHSCP).

The nasal spray which will be squirted up the children’s nose will protect them from the flu virus.  According to Public Health England, in flu vaccine pilot areas (2014/15) where primary school age children were given the nasal spray vaccine, the rates of hospital admissions due to confirmed influenza in that age group were down by 93%.

Dr Isba said: “This is a great chance to opportunistically vaccinate local children against flu as last year’s uptake – particularly in two, three and four year olds – wasn’t great and Manchester doesn’t do as well as other parts of the country.  Hopefully this approach of giving the needle-free vaccine whilst children are already in the department for another reason will make it easier for parents and carers, better for children and improve local vaccine coverage rates.”

Specially trained nursing staff will be able to give the vaccination to children in the department as part of their routine work and the initial scheme will run from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, throughout October, November and December.

Dr Isba added: “I am working with a great team of nurses in the paediatric emergency department to get this pilot programme off the ground, along with our brilliant pharmacist Kate.  We are optimistic about the scheme working and if it does, we will be able to share what we have learnt with other emergency departments so that they can roll out the programme next year.”

Professor Matthew Makin, executive medical director and director of infection prevention and control at Pennine Acute Trust which runs North Manchester General Hospital said: “Here at Pennine Acute we are committed to improving the health and wellbeing of our local communities. By offering needle-free flu vaccines to children attending the emergency department at North Manchester General Hospital, we are aiming to make things a little bit easier for children and their families, whilst protecting more people against flu. Pennine is delighted to be leading the way by using this innovative approach of delivering a public health scheme via the paediatric emergency department.”

Wendy Meredith, Director for Population Health Transformation, Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership, said: “Increasing the uptake of the flu vaccination in two, three and four year olds is a key aim of the Greater Manchester Early Years strategy.  We want to protect children from flu, which is a very serious illness and can lead to other complications such as bronchitis and pneumonia.  Young children also spread the virus easily to relatives and vaccination is an effective way of protecting the whole family and wider population.”

Pictured receiving his needle free flu vaccine is two year old Hassan Mohammed with dad Wasfi Mohammed, Adelle Lees, sister in paediatric emergency department; Kate Hilditch, senior pharmacist; John Cleland, F2 doctor and Dr Rachel Isba.