June 21, 2024

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Children ‘suffering needlessly’: Push to get kids vaccinated as measles cases spike | UK News

2 min read

Children are “suffering needlessly” because fewer parents are opting for routine childhood vaccines, health experts have said.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) is launching a new campaign to try to boost the number of children getting vaccinated after all jabs missed the 95% World Health Organisation (WHO) uptake target in England last year.

Uptake is particularly low in inner city areas, experts added.

The new campaign features children asking parents whether their vaccines are up to date.

“If we’re not vaccinated, we’re not protected,” the children in the video say. “We could get seriously ill, risking life-long disabilities.”

Experts said that children’s voices “resonated” with parents.

The standard immunisation programme in England offers protection against 13 diseases including measles, polio, diphtheria, mumps, whooping cough, rubella and meningococcal infections – which can lead to meningitis.

But Dr Vanessa Saliba, consultant epidemiologist at the UKHSA, said there had been a decline in vaccine uptake over the last decade, which had been “exacerbated” since the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunisation at the UKHSA, said that while there were some people who were “resistant” to vaccination, research suggested that attitudes towards vaccination were “positive and getting more positive”.

She added: “We think most of the problem relates to complacency and (parents) are very busy and not getting around to it.”

The campaign, which will be launched on Monday, comes as cases of measles continue to rise.

The UKHSA said it has recorded more than 600 cases since October.

Most were recorded in Birmingham and the West Midlands, but clusters were now being seen in London, the East Midlands and the North West.

Read more:
Mother of baby who had measles calls for earlier jab
Parents urged to book missed MMR vaccines

Dr Saliba added: “Measles can be a serious infection that can lead to children being unwell and in hospital, and so it is a concern that since October we have seen this rise in cases.”

Polio has also been found in London’s sewers again for the first time in decades.

Childhood vaccination coverage in England decreased across the majority of measures in 2022/23 compared to the previous year, according to NHS figures.

The proportion of children who had received their first MMR jab by five-years-old dropped to 92.5% – the lowest level in more than a decade. Some 84.5% had received their second MMR jab by the same age.

Meanwhile, 93.2% of five-year-olds had received the five-in-one jab – which protects against diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, polio, and haemophilus influenzae type b (also known as Hib).


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