Following a number of cases of cutaneous diphtheria identified in asylum seeker reception centres in Kent, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) recommended mass antibiotic prophylaxis and a single dose of diphtheria containing vaccine for people arriving into the Manston and Kent Intake units. This includes those who subsequently moved to hotels or other initial accommodation venues since 31 October.

More information on diphtheria:

What does this mean in south east London (SEL)?

There are eight supported asylum seeker hotels and other accommodation units in south east London. Asylum seekers arriving in this accommodation since 31 October 2022 from Manston or other Kent Intake units (including Dover) are recommended to receive antibiotics and vaccination.

What are we doing as a health and care system in SEL?

A SEL diphtheria incident management team has been set up including representatives from each borough. Its role includes supporting colleagues in the system to identify those who might be exposed to diphtheria and those who have symptoms of the disease.

Implementation of a vaccination/antibiotics programme is anticipated to start from week commencing Monday 21 November 2022 at the earliest, primarily managed by primary care. The SEL Vaccines Service will also support implementation on site if required. We are working with the UKSA and Home Office to use available data to identify people moved into local hotel accommodation from the Manston and Kent units.

A clear pathway is being put in place and arrangements being made to support residential settings to manage individuals who might have cutaneous diphtheria and to ensure appropriate management of those who might have been exposed to diphtheria (those leaving the Kent facilities after 31 October 2022). The pathway incorporates primary care (particularly GP surgeries linked to accommodation units), borough public health teams, and support provided by the SEL vaccination service which covers south east London. Details can be found in the resource pack (please see link below).

Information including leaflets on diphtheria, explaining the need for vaccination are available in a range of languages (please see below).

We are in daily contact with the accommodation venues. We are also supporting accommodation providers with general infection control measures, and to support implementation of health protection measures if a case is identified, including any PPE required. Secondary care colleagues including our NHS acute trusts have also been informed by UKHSA.

Further information and resources

Information and treatment record card including information leaflets translated into different languages:

Diphtheria Fact Sheets translated into different languages: Click here

The Resource Park can be downloaded here.

South East London Integrated Care System

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