RCPCH comments on importance of maintaining routine child and adolescent vaccinations during the pandemic

Professor Helen Bedford, Immunisation Lead for the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH), said:

As the new school year approaches, it’s vital to remind parents and carers of the importance of vaccination to protect their children and that it’s never too late to catch up on vaccines their children may have missed.
GP practices have been working very hard to ensure that children are vaccinated during the disruption caused by the pandemic. Some have set-up initiatives such as drive-through vaccination clinics. This has helped ensure that the declines for younger children are small - around 1-2%.
But any fall in vaccine uptake is a cause for concern. The diseases that these vaccines prevent have not gone away and the lower protection among children gives them an opportunity to re-emerge.
Recent figures for England show a large drop of about 20% in uptake of the vaccines given to adolescents usually in school: HPV, meningitis vaccine, and the teenage booster vaccine (tetanus, diphtheria and polio). In view of the many weeks of school closures during the pandemic, this is not a surprise. School immunisation teams have also been trying to ensure vaccines continue to be offered, but it’s been challenging for everyone involved.
If parents and carers have questions, they can talk to their health visitor, GP, practice nurse or school nurse.