Paediatricians urge parents to check on children’s vaccination schedule following further declines in immunisation rates

RCPCH President, Dr Camilla Kingdon responds to the recent report published by NHS Digital on Childhood Vaccination Coverage Statistics - England, 2022-23.
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On Thursday 28 September, NHS Digital published their Childhood Vaccination Coverage Statistics - England, 2022-23.

The report showed:

  • No vaccines met the 95% target as set out by the World Health Organisation (WHO)
  • Vaccination coverage decreased this past year, with a decline in 12 of the 14 vaccines reported in 2022-23
  • MMR1 coverage at 5 years decreased to 92.5%, the lowest level since 2010-11
  • MMR2 coverage at 5 years decreased to 84.5%, the lowest level since 2010-11

In response to the data, RCPCH President, Dr Camilla Kingdon said:

It’s deeply worrying that not a single vaccination target set by the WHO has been met in England yet again this year. We’re particularly concerned to see the MMR vaccine coverage at such low rates, especially this close to winter. Measles is far more infectious than COVID-19 and potentially a serious illness for children, especially the very young. There is now a very real risk of an outbreak, especially in London. This is an extremely dangerous development that we must urgently address. It is absolutely critical that government now publishes the long overdue vaccination strategy without further delay.

In the 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. To protect our children, it is important that we meet the vaccine targets, and have appropriate data that helps us understand any difference in uptake and ensure easier and more flexible access to vaccines for families.

We would ask that all parents and carers check and then double check that their children are up to date on their scheduled vaccinations. Parents and carers 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. Health professionals should also take the opportunity to talk to families about their child’s immunisation history and respond to any questions they may have.