Childhood vaccination uptake across England is falling according to the latest report by NHS England.
Uptake of all 13 childhood vaccinations has fallen in the last year, according to the 2018/2019 Childhood Vaccination Coverage Statistics. This report reveals worrying trends in vaccinations across the UK: for the first time in a decade, coverage at 12 months of the 6-in-1 vaccine is at its lowest (92.1%). This vaccine confers protection against diphtheria, tetanus and polio, amongst other diseases.
‘These are big drops in terms of public health. The trend is a concerning continuation of what we’ve seen in the last five years,’ said Dr Mary Ramsay, Head of Immunisations at Public Health England. ‘No parent should be in any doubt of the devastating impact of these diseases. It’s vital that everyone recognises the value of vaccines and takes up this life-saving offer’.
The MMR vaccine coverage at 5 years (for the first dose) has dropped for the fifth year in a row and, in August, the UK officially lost its measles-free status. Public Health England reported 532 cases of measles in the first half of this year.
‘Everyone has a role to play in halting this decline,’ said Health Secretary Matt Hancock. ‘The loss of our measles-free status is a stark reminder that devastating diseases can, and will, resurface. We need to be bold and I will not rule out action so that every child is properly protected’.
The decrease in vaccination coverage has prompted some to call for a compulsory vaccination programme in the UK. Though this idea has not been carried into official channels, the government has focused on combating the increased anti-vaccination sentiments in the UK. Boris Johnson was involved in encouraging social media platforms to block publishing of anti-vaccination articles earlier this year, as social media is thought to be a major contributor to the spread of anti-vaccination opinions.