Vaccination levels in UK children have dropped below the 95% target set by the World Health Organisation (WHO), according to a new report.
The report by NHS Digital and UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) also revealed that only 85.7% of five year olds had received both MMR vaccines, almost 10% lower than the WHO target.
Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) member and immunisation specialist at University College London, Professor Helen Bedford called upon the Government ‘to acknowledge these low uptake figures and focus its attention on ensuring equal access to vaccinations across all regions and socioeconomic groups’.
- All children in London to be offered does of polio vaccine
- Delivering immunisations during the COVID-19 pandemic
- Parents urged to keep childhood vaccination appointments
There was a decrease in the uptake of 13 out of 14 routine vaccinations administered to under 5 year olds compared to last year which includes the 6-in-1 vaccine that protects from diseases such as polio. Most regions only reached a 90% level of immunisation.
Dr Doug Brown Chief Executive of the British Society for Immunology found the figures ‘extremely worrying’.
He added that there was an urgent need for ‘significant investment on routine vaccination services’ by ‘strengthening the role of local immunisation co-ordinators, ensuring services are accessible, widening community outreach and increasing engagement with parents’.
It is believed that the decrease in vaccination levels for children is a result of the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The UKHSA has stressed how crucial it is for previous vaccination rates to be restored to prevent children being put at risk of avoidable serious illnesses.
‘Childhood vaccines boost population immunity levels, helping to prevent outbreaks, so by taking up all vaccinations for our children, we play our part in keeping these diseases confined to the past’ said Dr Vanessa Saliba Consultant epidemiologist at the UKHSA.