The London Borough of Tower Hamlets has sought to be innovative in the way it promotes the benefits of flu and routine vaccinations to children and their families. This has included the use of online videos and storybooks.
What was done?
The council’s public health team carries out both targeted and population-wide work to encourage the uptake of vaccinations. An example of the targeted work was a project run in partnership with the local Somali community. Data analysis showed the community had low rates of uptake for the MMR jab. Evidence suggested the discredited research on MMR from two decades ago was still having an impact. Working with the local Somali taskforce, made up of community leaders and councillors, the public health team produced a video featuring a local Somali GP explaining the importance of getting vaccinated. It was recorded in Somali with English subtitles and made available on YouTube. Leaflets have also been produced in Somali.
Meanwhile, this winter Tower Hamlets is pushing ahead with a new project aimed at the whole population in partnership with the local CCG and school immunisations team. It involves a children’s storybook that will be distributed to local primary schools, health visitors and children’s centres. The idea was proposed by the school vaccination team and is a concept developed by Wolverhampton CCG.
The storybook tells the story of how germs from Planet Bogey are heading for earth and threatening the health of children. It has been specially created to incorporate Tower Hamlets landmarks with the characters in the book reflecting the diverse population in the borough.
Public Health Programme Manager for Maternity and Early Years, Sumaira Tayyab, said working in partnership like this is crucial to improving uptake.
“Vaccinations are delivered in different settings by different professionals, so the benefit of working in partnership is being more joined up on how we encourage families to get their children vaccinated.
“It helps to make sure parents are getting the same information from different sources.”
What else is happening?
The public health team has also worked closely with children’s centres in recent years. Staff have been given information, leaflets and crib sheets to help them answer basic questions and signpost families in the right direction.
The local area is now looking at building on the work by reviewing new ways of delivering services, including delivering catch-up clinics from the centres and other appropriate community settings. To date they have been run from health centres.
Ms Tayyab said: “We have health visitors colocated in children centre’s so it could really help to have a holistic health offer. Children’s centres are trusted venues – they have good relationships with parents. I think if we are going to increase uptake rates, we have to realise that vaccination is not just about health professionals, it is something all our partners can help play a role in.”
Public Health Programme Manager for Maternity and Early Years
Tower Hamlets Council