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HCA standards for vaccine administration updated as role expands


National minimum standards for healthcare support workers who administer vaccinations have been updated following recognition these roles have a greater part to play in immunisation programmes.

The standards, produced by Public Health England and Public Health Wales, include additional training requirements for health care assistants and other equivalent roles that help to deliver the children’s intranasal influenza and adult shingles vaccine programmes.

They also feature new guidance on delegation, competency assessment, patient group directions and patient specific directions.

Previous standards in 2012 covered only training for healthcare support workers involved with delivering the adult flu and pneumococcal vaccines.

”The decision to involve [HCAs] in vaccine administration needs careful consideration and appropriate mechanisms for prescribing, delegation, accountability and supervision”

Public Health England document on training standards for HCAs

The latest version published today noted there was “greater recognition” that HCAs can be a “valuable addition” to teams delivering vaccinations.

Expansion of the flu vaccination programme to ultimately include all children from two to 16 years old could mean the vaccination workforce needs to be expanded “in many areas”, it added.

It noted that at many general practices the HCA role was being expanded to include vaccine administration.

However, it warned: “The decision to involve HCSWs in vaccine administration needs careful consideration and appropriate mechanisms in place for prescribing, delegation, accountability and supervision in order that vaccine administration is safe and effective.”

The standards recommend HCAs should only be considered for training in vaccine administration if they have at least two years’ experience as an HCA and have achieved a level three diploma or equivalent qualification.

They state a registered healthcare professional – such as nurse – must assess the HCA once they have received the training which should be “specific”, last at least two days for adult vaccine administration, and must include annual updates.

Healthcare support workers are not legally allowed to administer vaccines under patient group directions, but they can do so under a patient specific direction, note the standards.

Supervised practice with a registered healthcare professional is also strongly recommended.

The standards emphasise that a nurse - or other healthcare professional – should only delegate vaccination to an HCA if they are satisfied they have had appropriate training, meet the required competencies and have adequate supervision and support.


Readers' comments (4)

  • As a trained nurse I feel this is a step to far. Will they be trained in the management of Anaphylaxes including the administration of Adrenalin? At what point will the development of the role stop? Encourage the HCA to train to become fully qualafied nurses. Is it a money saving exercise.

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  • Within my trust HCA's can not progress past band 2. If we were to be trained to administer vaccines with a anaphylaxes trained nurse present surely this would mean that band 2 HCA's would be performing band 3 or even band 4 roles and not getting the correct pay for it!

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  • It's high time we had some national guidelines so that we knew what IS the role of an HCA (Band 3 in my employing authority) and AP (Band 4).
    It's also high time the media caught up with the idea that there is such a thing as an Assistant Practitioner grade.....

    I'm sure training in anaphylaxis would also be part of the preparation for anyone, with any qualification, administering injections.

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  • As a registered nurse I understand completely the concerns raised. However I recently had an HCA in my GP practice administer flu vaccine to me and I was completely satisfied with her technique and attitude. There is always a registered nurse within the practice who could be immediately on hand in the unlikely event of anaphylaxis, so no need for anxiety. In these days of financial austerity allowing HCA's to take on extended roles that require limited but specific further training does not detract from the professional registered nurses' role that is so much more than giving injections. I suspect it is the only way the NHS will survive.

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