England: MMR vaccination awareness drive as uptake drops to lowest level in a decade

18 March 2022

Government figures reveal that more than one in 10 children under the age of five aren’t fully protected from measles and are at risk of catching it.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) and the NHS are now calling on parents and guardians to ensure their children are up to date with the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine. Their campaign highlights the serious risks posed by measles, with a reminder that two doses of the MMR vaccine are needed for protection.

Since the start of the pandemic there has been a significant drop in the numbers getting their children vaccinated against MMR and other childhood vaccines at the right time, says the UKHSA.

Coverage of the first dose of the MMR vaccine in two-year-olds has dropped below 90%. Meanwhile, coverage for the two doses of MMR vaccine in five-year-olds in England is currently 85.5%, well below the 95% WHO target. Even a small decline in MMR uptake can lead to a rise in cases. 

Moreover, research by the Department of Health and Social Care and UKHSA found that almost half of parents didn’t know that measles can lead to complications such as pneumonia and brain inflammation, and only 38% knew measles can be fatal.

Vaccines minister Maggie Throup said: ‘Parents and guardians – if you are unsure whether your child has had their full course of the MMR vaccine, check their “red book” or talk to your GP. The vaccine is safe, it will protect your child and their school friends and is very easy to access.’

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