CHILDHOOD vaccination rates have plummeted across England – with uptake of all 13 key jabs falling in the past year.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the deadly drop in immunisation levels was “unacceptable”.
The proportion of kids protected against measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) has dropped for the sixth consecutive year.
And levels of coverage for the 6-in-1 jab – which protects against diseases including diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis and hepatitis B – hit a ten-year low.
Experts fear a mix of complacency and social media scare stories are putting people off life-saving jabs.
Health Secretary, Matt Hancock said: “Falling childhood vaccination rates are unacceptable. Everyone has a role to play in halting this decline.
Falling childhood vaccination rates are unacceptable. Everyone has a role to play in halting this decline
Matt Hancock, Health Secretary
“The loss of our measles free status is a stark reminder that devastating diseases can, and will, resurface.
“We need to be bold and I will not rule out action so that every child is properly protected.”
The findings come a month after the UK lost its World Health Organisation “measles-free” status, as parents shunned jabs for children.
Infection rate rising
Cases more than doubled in two years and the infection rate is rising.
There were 532 in the first half of this year — yet 259 in all of 2017, says Public Health England.
All kids should get two doses of the MMR vaccine before primary school to be fully protected – usually at 12 months and three years and four months.
But the number of children starting school fully vaccinated is at its lowest level in seven years, with 86.4 per cent covered.
That is well below the 95 per cent target set by the World Health Organisation.
Professor Stephen Powis, NHS national medical director, said: “Vaccines are a vital, life-saving part of our country’s public health and the numbers of children not being vaccinated is concerning.
“”No one should be complacent about getting their own or their child’s jabs and so the NHS is taking action, with its partners, to combat the decline and to reverse the dangerous effects of complacency about vaccines.”
Similarly, Dr Mary Ramsay, Head of Immunisation at Public Health England, called the statistics “concerning” and urged parents to make sure their child is getting vaccinated.
What jabs does your baby or child need?
According to the NHS website, these are the routine vaccinations that are offered to babies and children in the UK:
MMR vaccine – protects your child against three separate illnesses: measles, mumps and rubella/
6-in-1 vaccine – protects against six serious childhood diseases: diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, polio, Hib (Haemophilus influenzae type b) and hepatitis B.
Pneumoccocal or pneumo jab (PCV) – protects against some types of pneumococcal infection, which are caused by the bacterium Streptococcus pneumoniae and can lead to pneumonia, septicaemia and meningitis.
Rotavirus vaccine – protects against rotavirus infection, a common cause of diarrhoea and sickness.
Men B vaccine – protects against infection caused by meningococcal type B bacteria, which can lead to meningitis and septicaemia.
Hib/Men C vaccine – prevents against Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) and meningitis C infections, which can be serious or potentially fatal.
Children’s flu vaccine – protects against flu which can have potentially serious complications, including bronchitis and pneumonia.
4-in-1 pre-school booster – protects against diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough and polio.
HPV vaccine (girls only) – designed to protect girls against cervical cancer.
3-in-1 teenage booster – used to boost your child’s protection against three separate diseases: tetanus, diphtheria and polio.
Men ACWY vaccine – teenagers and “fresher” students going to university are advised to have a vaccination to prevent meningitis and septicaemia.
She added: “Although these changes are small proportions, these are big drops in terms of public health.
“The trend is a concerning continuation of what we’ve seen in the last five years.
“No parent should be in any doubt of the devastating impact of these diseases.
“It’s vital that everyone recognises the value of vaccines and takes up this life-saving offer.”
Meanwhile, Dr Peter English, British Medical Association public health medicine committee chair, called on the Government to implement an effect vaccination strategy.
More on vaccines and medicines
He said: “Childhood immunisation remains the most effective way to prevent a range of life-threatening illnesses and it is therefore extremely concerning to see a decrease in vaccination uptake given this is largely avoidable.
“There is a clear need to curb the damaging spread of false and misleading information on vaccinations by enforcing standards and placing legal obligations on social media corporations.
“More importantly still, the Government must implement an effective vaccination strategy that addresses the wide-ranging factors behind this decline and deliver adequate resources to ensure targeted, comprehensive vaccination programmes that reaches those most in need.”
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