Updated 4th May 2020
Since this article was first published, Public Health England has clarified that the complete routine immunisation schedule should be maintained.
In a statement published on 17th April, the JCVI emphasises the importance of maintaining the national immunisation programme 'to avoid outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases and allow us to provide important protection to children and other vulnerable groups.'
Maintaining the programme will also minimise the numbers of patients requiring health services because of vaccine-preventable diseases, the statement adds.
The JCVI urges practices to maintain 'the best possible vaccine uptake'. Where practices experience high demand on services, the JCVI says time-sensitive vaccines for babies, children and pregnant women should be prioritised. It defines these as:
- Routine childhood immunisations (including targeted neonatal hepatitis B and BCG), from birth up to and including vaccines offered to babies, infants and pre-school children including first and second MMR doses
- Pertussis vaccination in pregnancy
- Pneumococcal vaccination for those in risk groups from 2 to 64 years of age and those aged 65 years and over (subject to supplies of PPV23 and clinical prioritisation)
If people present for any other scheduled vaccination, the JCVI says the opportunity to provide this 'should not be missed'.
Immunisation can go ahead as long as those attending for it (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.