Drop in coverage for all childhood vaccinations in the last year, official figures show
Rates of coverage for all 13 childhood vaccinations in England have fallen in the last year, according to new figures released by NHS Digital.
Coverage dropped for all routine vaccinations, including for the MMR vaccine, which fell for the fifth consecutive year.
The figures showed that 90.3% of eligible children had the first dose of the MMR vaccine by 24 months in 2018/19, down from 91.2% in the previous year.
The vaccination rate for both doses of MMR by the age of five was 86.4% in 2018/19, representing a decline of one percentage point from the previous year.
Only two local authorities, Cumbria and County Durham, achieved the WHO-recommended level of 95% coverage for the MMR vaccine in children aged five.
The figures also showed decreases in coverage of the 5-in-1 vaccine for the sixth year in a row, with coverage at 92.1% in children aged 12 months. This is the lowest rate since 2008/09.
The local authority with the worst coverage for the 5-in-1 vaccine was Hackney, with rates of just 73% for children aged 12 months.
BMA public health medicine committee chair, Dr Peter English, said: ‘Childhood immunisation remains the most effective way to prevent a range of life-threatening illnesses and it is therefore extremely concerning to see a decrease in vaccination uptake given this is largely avoidable.
‘There is a clear need to curb the damaging spread of false and misleading information on vaccinations by enforcing standards and placing legal obligations on social media corporations.
‘More importantly still, the Government must implement an effective vaccination strategy that addresses the wide-ranging factors behind this decline and deliver adequate resources to ensure targeted, comprehensive vaccination programmes that reaches those most in need.’
The news comes as figures released earlier this month by NHS Digital showed that hospital admissions for measles climbed by 66% in 2018/19 compared to the previous year.
Senior GPs wrote to health secretary Matt Hancock earlier this year recommending that children should not be allowed to start school if they had not had their MMR vaccines.