Paediatricians respond to worrying decline in childhood immunisation rates in England

On Thursday 29 September, NHS Digital published their Childhood Vaccination Coverage Statistics- England, 2021-22.

The report showed:

  • A decline uptake in 13 out of the 14 routine vaccination measures for children in 2021-22
  • No vaccinations met the 95% target set by the World Health Organization (WHO)
  • Regional uptake of routine vaccinations (MMR, Polio) was at its lowest in London

In response to the data RCPCH Immunisation Expert, Professor Helen Bedford said: 

I am deeply concerned that not one vaccination target set by the WHO has been met in England this year. The diseases that these vital vaccines prevent are dangerous and have not disappeared. Lower vaccine uptake allows them to re-emerge and this is a risk we cannot take. Parents can check their child’s Red Book to see if they have been vaccinated – or if they are unsure by speaking to their GP, health visitor or practice nurse. 

Now is the time for the UK Government to acknowledge these low uptake figures and focus its attention on ensuring equal access to vaccinations across all regions and socioeconomic groups. We’re calling on the health agencies in England, Wales and Northern Ireland to continually provide accurate data on infectious diseases and vaccination coverage in the UK and commission research into strategies to address vaccine hesitancy and tailoring interventions appropriately. This cannot wait. 

To paediatricians, we would highlight that you should take every opportunity to speak with children and families about their vaccination history and discuss any questions and concerns to help them understand the importance of vaccination. Every contact counts.