COVID-19/Flu Advice: Congenital cardiac services

Updated 23 September 2021

Update: We understand you may be concerned about the ongoing Covid-19 situation and attendance of clinic appointments. Please see below for the current situation when attending clinics at hospitals in the Thames Valley and Wessex Network.

Click on the boxes below to read more about these services. 

During the current coronavirus outbreak, adult patients should attend their clinic appointment on their own unless mobility, carer or mental health support is required.

Your consultant will decide the timing of your next appointment and whether you require a telephone call, video clinic appointment or a face to face clinic appointment. We will contact you to confirm any changes. This may result in you being seen later than planned. If you have any concerns about your rescheduled appointment date, please contact the ACHD nurse specialist team at Southampton on 023 8120 4739 or at Oxford on 01865 740412 or alternatively speak to your consultant’s secretary.

For further information for patients attending the hospital please use the links below.

Across the Network the majority of children’s cardiac clinics are taking place face to face. However a few patients may receive a telephone clinic with their Consultant Paediatric Cardiologist if it is felt a face to face appointment is not necessary.

Only one parent or carer is permitted to accompany each child for their appointment or blood test (unless there are exceptional circumstances or this appointment is to discuss your child’s surgery with the Consultant Cardiac Surgeon). This is because our waiting room capacity has been reduced to maintain social distancing measures and to minimise the number of adults coming through the department.

We ask that you arrive just before your appointment time to minimise the amount of people in our waiting rooms.

You will see all members of staff continue to wear a mask and you and your child will be given a mask on entry to the hospital. However if your child will not tolerate wearing a mask please do not worry.

If you have any concerns about your clinic appointment, please contact the Children’s Cardiac Nurse Specialist team at Southampton on 023 8120 4659 or at Oxford on 01865 234985 or alternatively speak to your consultant’s secretary.

Use the links below for further information:

Please click the link here for more information on the COVID-19 vaccine. 

Who can have the COVID-19 vaccine

COVID-19 vaccines are available for everyone aged 12 or over

Find out more about who can get a COVID-19 vaccine

British Heart Foundation guide to the Covid-19 vaccine for patients with CHD

Please click here for information from the British Heart Foundation and questions about the COVID-19 vaccine.

COVID-19 and pregnancy

Please click here: A Guide to COVID-19 vaccination in pregnancy

Pregnant women with significant heart disease have been classed as extremely vulnerable. You will have been advised of this by your medical team.  It is important that you follow the advice for the extremely vulnerable.

What is a significant heart disease in pregnancy?

  • Impaired left heart function (any cause)
  • A systemic right ventricle (congenitally corrected TGA, Senning/Mustard surgery for TGA) even if well-functioning
  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy with abnormal heart function and/or outflow tract obstruction
  • Heart disease due to high blood pressure with thickening of the muscle on the left side of the heart
  • Fontan circulation
  • Pulmonary arterial hypertension (any cause)
  • Cyanotic conditions ie saturation in air < 92%
  • Moderate or severe valve stenosis (narrowed)
  • Severe valve regurgitation (leaking) and moderate if symptomatic
  • Symptomatic coronary artery disease

For further information and answers to questions for pregnant ladies and their families please refer to the guidance that has been published by the Royal College of Obstretricians and Gynaecologists.

Visit: https://www.rcog.org.uk/en/guidelines-research-services/guidelines/coronavirus-pregnancy/covid-19-virus-infection-and-pregnancy/

COVID and Pulmonary Hypertension:

Please visit: https://www.phauk.org/support/coronavirus-pulmonary-hypertension/

COVID and adult congenital heart disease:  information from Somerville Foundation

Please visit: https://thesf.org.uk/ It is free to register to access the Somerville Foundation advice pages.

We hope that the information below will be useful in helping you make a decision about whether your child should have the Covid-19 vaccine.

Please be aware that the hospital or cardiology team are not able to organise a COVID-19 vaccine for your child. Patients who are eligible for a vaccine will be contacted by their GP or school nursing team over the coming weeks/months to be offered a vaccine.

If you have further questions after reading the information below, please contact the cardiac nurse specialists on 02381 204659.

British Heart Foundation Guide to the Covid-19 Vaccine in patients with CHD:

If you have questions about the COVID-19 vaccine and you or your child’s heart condition, please refer to the Question and Answer Guide produced by the British Heart Foundation:

https://www.bhf.org.uk/informationsupport/heart-matters-magazine/news/coronavirus-and-your-health/coronavirus-vaccine-your-questions-answered

Vaccine Guidance for children aged 5-17 years with Congenital Heart Disease. 

Please click here to view the latest guidance on COVID-19 vaccines in children with CHD. 

Please click here for more information on the flu vaccine for adults. 

The flu vaccine is given free on the NHS to people who:

  • are 50 and over (including those who’ll be 50 by 31 March 2022)
  • have certain health conditions
  • are pregnant
  • are in long-stay residential care
  • receive a carer’s allowance, or are the main carer for an older or disabled person who may be at risk if you get sick
  • live with someone who is more likely to get infections (such as someone who has HIV, has had a transplant or is having certain treatments for cancer, lupus or rheumatoid arthritis)
  • frontline health or social care workers

We recommend that all children who are between 6 months and 18 years of age with CHD should have a flu vaccine.

The department of health has produced some useful  information about the Flu vaccine in children which can be found here:

NHS Advice on the Flu Vaccine for Children.

Which flu vaccine should my child have?

This year the eligibility criteria for the nasal flu vaccine has been expanded. Some children who previously had an injected flu vaccine are now eligible for the nasal spray. The nasal spray vaccine will be arranged by your child’s school or by contacting your GP if they are not of school age or home schooled.

Children aged between 2 -18 years with CHD can receive the nasal flu vaccine unless:

  • They are taking aspirin (referred to in the guideline as salicylate therapy).
  • They are severely immunocompromised due to a medical condition or immunosuppressive therapy e.g. leukaemia, HIV infection or taking high dose corticosteroids.
  • They have had a severe anaphylactic reaction to eggs which has required an intensive care admission.
  • They have asthma and require regular oral steroids for maintenance of asthma control, or have previously required intensive care for asthma exacerbation. (These patients may be able to have the nasal spray with approval from their respiratory specialist).

Children who fall into one of these groups should receive the injected flu vaccine. This can be arranged via your GP surgery or school nursing team. It is not possible for the hospital or your child’s cardiologist to arrange a flu vaccine.

Frequently asked questions:

My child cannot have the nasal spray, do they need to stay off school for a period of time when it is given to the rest of their class?

The nasal spray contains a weakened live flu virus. It cannot cause flu but in a few individuals may cause a mild cold.

There is a theoretical possibility that the virus could be transmitted from a vaccinated individual to an unvaccinated individual who is immunocompromised for one to two weeks following vaccination.

In the US, where there has been extensive use of the nasal spray vaccine, there have been no reported instances of illness or infections from the vaccine virus among immunocompromised patients inadvertently exposed.

Unless your child is severely immunocompromised, there is no need for them to take time off school when their class is vaccinated.

Will my child need two doses of the Flu Vaccine?

If your child has not received a flu vaccine before (in either injected or nasal spray form) and is under 9 years of age, they may require two doses of the vaccine. Your school nurse or GP will advise you if your child requires an additional dose.

How soon after the vaccine is my child protected from the flu virus?

Studies have shown that an immune response is generally established within 14 days of receiving the vaccine.

I am still worried about the flu vaccine and would like to know more about it:

You can read the full Department of Health guideline here:

The Green Book of Immunisation: Influenza

This is the guideline used by all health professionals who give advice about Flu vaccines.

If you still have  questions or concerns you can contact the cardiac nurse specialist team on 02381 204659.

If you have a new continuous cough, a high temperature, or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste, do not come to our hospitals. Stay at home and follow the national advice.

If you have any concerns about you or your child’s health or wellbeing, you should seek appropriate medical advice- care if available in our emergency department.

You can also use the following guidance:

Each consultant is triaging their outpatient clinics so if you have received a clinic appointment and haven’t been contacted to cancel your appointment, please do attend.

Where possible we will provide virtual or telephone clinics.

If you have an appointment and have not heard from us, you should attend as planned. If you are self-isolating, please contact our service.