This site is intended for health professionals only

All childhood vaccination uptake falls below 95% target in England

All childhood vaccination uptake falls below 95% target in England

No routine childhood vaccination met the 95% uptake target set by the World Health Organization last year in England, latest NHS figures show.

In response to the data, UK public health officials warned that children are being put at risk of serious illness that could be avoided.

Uptake fell in 13 of 14 vaccine measures in 2021/22, NHS Digital said with immunisation rates in general being on a downward trajectory in recent years.

The UK Health Protection Agency had already warned about falling uptake for measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccinations, which the latest figures show has dropped to 89.2% for one-year olds.

A MMR catch-up campaign was announced earlier this week with NHS England contacting parents and carers of 750,000 children who have missed a dose between the ages of one and six years.

The only vaccine where coverage increased was pneumococcal disease but data for the previous year was not available due to a change in the immunisation schedule.

For the six-in-one vaccine for diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, polio, Haemophilus influenzae type b, hepatitis B uptake that was introduced in 2017, fell to 91.8% by the age of one year.

Coverage of the pre-school booster for those who had the five-in-one vaccine fell to 84.2% from 85.3% in the previous year.

Uptake for the meningitis B vaccine and Hib/meningitis C vaccine also fell from the previous year.

There is regional variation with London having the lowest vaccine uptake across the board, the data shows

Figure in Wales and Scotland were higher with more than 95% uptake for the six-in-one vaccine at 12 months in both countries, NHS Digital said.

Disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic is likely to have caused some of the decreases in vaccine coverage seen in 2020-21 and 2021-22, compared to earlier years, the report said.

Currently children aged one to nine years in London are being offered a polio booster after detection of the virus in sewage.

Dr Vanessa Saliba, consultant epidemiologist at UKHSA, said: ‘Measles is highly contagious and can be dangerous, and it is extremely worrying that we are seeing levels of uptake of the MMR vaccine falling among young children. It is also vitally important that children get their polio vaccinations to help prevent the risk of paralysis.

‘I would urge parents to check that all children are up to date with their vaccines, and if not to get them booked in as soon as possible to make sure they have maximum protection against what can be terrible diseases.

‘Childhood vaccines also boost population immunity levels, helping prevent outbreaks, so by taking up all vaccinations for our children, we play our part in keeping these diseases confined to the past.’

Professor Jonathan Ball, professor of molecular virology at University of Nottingham, said: ‘It’s really disappointing to see that childhood vaccination rates for many key diseases are down. To protect communities against measles outbreaks for example, we need to see MMR vaccine uptake at around 95%. These aren’t trivial diseases. Many of these infections can kill, yet vaccination has been so good at banishing them that it is easily forgotten just how serious they can be.

‘It’s important to understand why uptake isn’t as high as we would like, so that we can introduce measures to increase this.’


Visit Pulse Reference for details on 140 symptoms, including easily searchable symptoms and categories, offering you a free platform to check symptoms and receive potential diagnoses during consultations.


Please note, only GPs are permitted to add comments to articles

Patrufini Duffy 29 September, 2022 8:51 pm

Once you lose the family practitioner, you lose it all. It has only just begun.

David Banner 30 September, 2022 8:34 am

Part of this problem was the ludicrous decision to set GPs high percentage targets WITHOUT any exception reporting for immovable refuseniks, on a stupidly tight timeline. Once Practices realise early in the year that they are going to miss their targets, their focus inevitably turns to other more achievable goals. GPs pointed this out when the rules were changed, but as usual nobody listened.

Julia Visick 30 September, 2022 7:09 pm

We have good vaccination rates in Shropshire but even our rates have dropped due a small but significant number of patients refusing to have their children vaccinated. We offer to talk/ send letter with the excellent Oxford link on it etc but to no avail as they have done their “research” – social media is now more respected than any professionals judgement ( sadly)… as said above loss of the family practitioner and that trust comes with many consequences…..