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Physical and mental health for young children
Physical and mental health for young children

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3.4 Preventing infection: what can be done to encourage parents?

As said many times during this course, working with parents in supportive, sensitive and non-judgemental ways to promote children’s health is important. You may choose to ask parents about their child’s immunisation records before they start attending your setting. However, this may be something that you are doing for your current cohort, in which case, Step 1 of the Toolkit (as discussed in Session 6) may be help you to find out more from parents about the immunisation status of their children.

If you find that not all of the children are immunised, or if there is an outbreak of an infectious disease that could be prevented by immunisation, you may consider developing a health education campaign for your setting.

Such a campaign could include producing resources that are aimed at informing parents of the reasons why immunisation is important. The poster that is available on the Government website may be a helpful starting point: Immunising nursery school children, poster [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)]

Educating parents by thinking about the issue from the children’s perspective may be helpful. Some parents who choose not to immunise their child against preventable diseases may not be aware that they are denying their child their right to health by leaving them more vulnerable to contracting an infectious disease.

Parental choice to not immunise their children can impact on other children, not just their own children. Ensuring that as many children as possible are immunised will help to achieve what is described as ‘herd immunity’ and this will help to protect vulnerable children who cannot receive immunisations. There are few reasons why children should not receive immunisations. One example is children who are receiving immune suppressing drugs following an organ transplant, or those receiving cancer treatment. Giving immunisations to immune-suppressed children is potentially dangerous, but if the majority of children are immunised, this will reduce the chance of infectious diseases being spread. Thus, achieving herd immunity will help to confer the right to health on such children.

Education and health settings who can reduce the incidence of communicable diseases are going to have higher attendance by staff and children. This will contribute to the wellbeing of children, parents and staff.

Depending on the sort of setting you are working in, and the location, it may be possible to work with other professionals to promote the health messages about immunisation for children.