Latest figures show target for MMR vaccination for five year olds in England has been met for the first time

Statistics published today by NHS Digital show that the proportion of children receiving the Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccine by age five has increased year on year since 2006-07. Coverage was 95.0% cent in 2016-17 compared with 94.8% for 2015-16, meeting the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommended target for immunisation.

However, coverage of the MMR vaccine by children’s second birthday has decreased in 2016-17 for the third year in a row to 91.6%.

Commenting on the figures, Professor Helen Bedford, RCPCH member and specialist in immunisation at University College London (UCL), said: 

“In UK we are fortunate to have a highly successful childhood immunisation programme offering vaccines to protect children against fourteen potentially serious infections before the age of five years. The overwhelming majority of parents vaccinate their children and have confidence in the vaccine programme. 

However, the latest vaccine uptake figures for England show something of a mixed picture. While for the first time, 95% of five year olds have had one dose of MMR by the age of five years, with 7 out of 9 regions exceeding this figure, there is still room for improvement notably in London and the South East. At two years of age 95% of children in England have had three doses of the primary vaccines. 

For the best protection of children and the community, uptakes of MMR and the primary vaccines need to be higher at younger ages. This not only provides protection to individual children as early as possible but also means the diseases stop circulating, giving protection to those who cannot be immunised such as very young babies. 

“While it’s not conclusive that fewer parents are actually immunising their children - these figures could represent issues over accurate collection of immunisation figures - they do provide an impetus to continue working to improve and maintain high vaccine levels to protect our children. It is also important to remind parents that children can catch up on vaccines they may have missed out on when younger.” 

For further information and a full breakdown of the figures please see the NHS Digital website.