RCPCH responds to Prime Minister's announcement on immunisation uptake

The Prime Minister has today called for urgent action to boost the number of children and young people receiving life-saving vaccinations. This comes as it is revealed that the UK has lost its "measles-free" status with the WHO, three years after it had eliminated the virus.

Currently, just 87% of children are getting their second dose of the MMR jab, which is thought to be contributing to the spread of measles.

To address this the Prime Minister has announced a number of measures, including NHS England urging GPs to promote "catch up" vaccination programmes for MMR, updated advice from the NHS online, strengthening the role of local immunisation coordinators and working with social media companies to discuss how they can play their part in promoting accurate information about vaccination.

The Department for Health and Social Care - working with Public Health England and NHS England - will also deliver a strategy to address the issue in the Autumn.

Responding to the Prime Minister’s urgent call for vaccination up-take and plans to improve immunisation, Professor Helen Bedford, Immunisation Expert for the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) said:

We welcome the Prime Minister calling attention to the need to boost the number of children and young people receiving life-saving vaccinations. His suggestions mirror those in the PHE's Strategy published at the end of last year.

Measles is a highly infectious disease with potentially serious complications so we are encouraged that government is stepping up measures to increase vaccination rates, especially in areas of low uptake. We would like to see vaccination figures go back to higher rates and remain there to restore and maintain the UK’s ‘measles-free’ status. A coordinated approach is needed and we look forward to seeing the detail in the forthcoming strategy, especially the resources to put it into action.

Our advice to parents is that measles is completely preventable and the Measles, Mumps and Rubella, MMR, vaccine is very effective with a very good safety record. Two doses are needed for best protection.

It is not too late for children and young people who have missed out to catch-up on vaccines and we encourage parents to contact their GP to arrange or ask if unsure. With children and young people due to go back to school, university or college, it’s very important they are fully immunised before they return.