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Ongoing decline in uptake of childhood vaccines, figures suggest

Ongoing decline in uptake of childhood vaccines, figures suggest

Vaccine uptake in babies in the UK is continuing to fall for most immunisations, the latest public health figures show.

Figures for the first three months of this year show the steady decline seen over the past decade is still not showing signs of turnaround despite recent Government campaigns to encourage uptake.

Between January and March, coverage of all vaccines by 12 months decreased by 0.2% to 0.3% with the exception of rotavirus, data from the COVER programme shows.

Uptake of the 6-in-1 vaccine in babies by the time they are one year old is now 91.1%, 3.6 percentage points lower than the peak ten years ago, the report said.

Similar figures were seen by the time children had reached the age of two years, although MMR uptake rose slightly by 0.1% in England and the wider UK, the UK Health Security Agency said.

The proportion of children who have had their first MMR jab by 24 months is now 88.7%.

There was also an uptick in the pre-school booster and the second MMR dose to 84.5% and 85.2% respectively but figures remain well below the 95% target set by the World Health Organization (WHO).

The figures for England across all vaccines are about a percentage point higher if London is taken out of the equation, the analysis showed.

Both Scotland and Wales hit the 95% WHO target for coverage for both the 6-in-1 and MMR1 vaccines measured at 5 years.

In the past six months, parents have been urged to check their children’s vaccination status amid increased cases of pertussis and outbreaks of measles.

Pregnant women have also been encouraged to have a pertussis jab after eight babies died from whooping cough in the first four months of the year.

Up to April there have been 4,793 laboratory confirmed cases of pertussis compared with 858 across the whole of 2023.

The first few months of this year also saw measles outbreaks, initially centered around Birmingham but as that stabilised clusters of cases were reported in other areas, particularly London.

Since 1 October 2023, there have been 1,985 laboratory confirmed measles cases reported, 36% of them in London in two thirds in children under the age of ten.

Dr Gayatri Amirthalingam, UKHSA consultant epidemiologist, said: ‘We know that parents want the best for their children and vaccination gives them the very best start in life. If children aren’t vaccinated, they’re not protected, so it’s concerning that there continues to be a general gradual decline in uptake of the vaccines in the childhood immunisation programme over the last decade.

‘We call on parents to help us reverse the downward trend and help us achieve the World Health Organization’s target of 95% coverage, to protect children and prevent these infections from re-emerging.’


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

Dave Haddock 2 July, 2024 1:14 pm

Misleading people about the effectiveness, safety and need for COVID vaccine during the pandemic has damaged public confidence in vaccines and vaccine programs.
Despite claims at the time, Covid vaccine does little to prevent transmission; despite claims at the time, there is no good evidence for vaccination of children or healthy young adults. Despite claims at the time, COVID vaccine has a small but significant risk of harm.
Bullying and threatening the unvaccinated- restrictions on travel, socialising, threats of being sacked – unsurprisingly generated considerable hostility.

Larry LameLamb 2 July, 2024 1:32 pm

To be honest I think this is a generalised societal issue to do with an on going blurring of the verifiability of information. This has got a lot to do with social media, fragmentation and globalisation of the media, online conspiracy theories and algorithm driven over exaggeration of fringe ideas for commercial gain (click bate) ..add into that the odd fish who managed to train to be a Dr and what you end up with increasingly is dinner for your dog