Decline in vaccination rates during the early years
The number of children receiving all of their early childhood vaccinations has dramatically dropped over the past couple of years. This is a huge concern for medical professionals as it is leaving a wider proportion of children vulnerable to many early childhood diseases.
Vaccinations are one of the simplest ways to protect children from contracting life threatening diseases. The larger the number of children vaccinated; the less risks of contracting the disease for the few select children who do not receive their vaccinations.
Although the number of children gaining all of their doses in order to be immune to early childhood diseases has decreased; many are arguing the UK still has one of the best vaccination schemes in the world. Even with declining numbers, the UK is one of the largest take ups of children who are receiving their vaccinations.
It is important that nurseries are aware of the signs and symptoms of many childhood illnesses and diseases so they are able to advise parents when children need collecting from a setting and to receive some medical advice from a trained professional.
Settings should also have clear policies and procedures following recommended infection control absence times. Recent information gathered by earlyyearscareers.com on social media platforms has displayed the confusion and variations settings often have regarding dealing with infection control over simpler childhood infections such as conjunctivitis.
Settings are able to create their own policies and procedures however it is important that these are well informed and follow recommendations made by healthcare professionals, such as the department for health and the world health organisation. These recommendations are made to protect children and prevent the spread of infection and epidemics happening.
It is important to inform parents when there has been a child diagnosed with a contagious disease or infection so parents are aware of the signs and symptoms, enabling them to decide whether they need to seek medical advice for their child or not. This is also important as many childhood diseases can also be harmful to pregnant mothers so it is important that they are aware and take steps to protect their pregnancies.
There are other things that can be done to minimise the spread of disease and infection in the early years and these may be more important then ever with falling vaccination rates. These include:
- Hand washing – Teaching children how and when to wash their hands is an important life skill and can save lives. Children should wash their hands after going to the toilet and before eating. It is also important that practitioners know how to properly wash their hands and do so before touching and preparing foods, after using the toilet, helping children use the toilet/potty and changing nappies
- Cleaning – The toys and soft furnishing should be regularly cleaned and disinfected. Nurseries use various methods for this including high temperature dishwasher settings, Milton, steam machines and high temp washing machine settings. If there is an infectious illness or disease diagnosed, settings may choose to do a deep clean and clean the toys more regularly.
- Door handles – Door handles, stair gates, light switches etc should all be cleaned on a regular basis as these are objects which come into contact with many people throughout the day; all of these may not have washed their hands before touching the objects.
- Tissues- Reminding children to catch their germs in tissues and to throw them away and wash their hands afterwards.