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Vaccine uptake plunges in IT chaos

Shocking failures in a new Connecting for Health system for tracking child immunisation have caused uptake rates to plummet in some areas, the Health Protection Agency has warned.

Uptake in trusts using the new Child Health Interim Applications has plunged by up to 19 per cent for the five-in-one vaccine and 10 per cent for MMR, the agency revealed.

'Falls of this magnitude not only indicate individual children may be at risk but represent a potential major public health threat,' its report said.

The HPA said falls in uptake had occurred in 10 PCTs in London, because of failures to generate vaccine invitations and flag up unvaccinated children, with trusts in the east of England similarly affected.

It is investigating the extent to which the falls are genuine and warned: 'As new systems are implemented in other regions, lessons need to be learnt.'

Dr Kambiz Boomla, a GP in Tower Hamlets in east London, in one of the affected trusts, said: 'It's a nightmare. Targets are not being met because of the sorry state of the system.'

Professor Brent Taylor, member of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, said: 'This is computer incompetence. We don't know if children have had their vaccinations. It's back to the days of the abacus.'

Connecting for Health admitted in February that 'some parents have not been advised of their children's immunisation needs', which it described as 'most regrettable'.

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