Coverage of MMR is at its lowest rate since 2010-11, say latest figures, prompting the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) to include measles in their national guidance for the first time in decades.
In response to the resurgence in cases of measles, the infection is now included in the RCPCH’s recommendations on the management of children with viral respiratory tract infections in hospital settings. This update includes the main symptoms of measles in children and reminds practitioners to check the immunisation status of all children presenting to hospital.
The low coverage of MMR vaccinations is part of a trend of declining vaccine uptake. Data from NHS Digital has shown that no vaccines met the 95% coverage target in England, 2022-23.
‘The good news for parents and carers is that the MMR vaccine is highly effective with a very good safety record,’ says RCPCH Officer for Health Services, Dr Ronny Cheung. ‘Be assured that it is never too late for your child to get these critical vaccinations, and your health practitioner would be happy to discuss any questions or concerns you might have.’
A report from PHE in 2021 founder lower socioeconomic status was associated with lower vaccination coverage. However, reasons for this are complicated, and can be down to community, institutional, and policy factors. Therefore, RCPCH are calling on the government to publish their national vaccination strategy.
Last year, the government consulted healthcare workers and the public to put the strategy together, with the aim to improve vaccination services and address issues around accessibility, misinformation, and distrust.
President of the RCPCH, Dr Camilla Kingdon, said: ‘Many paediatricians I know live in fear of potential measles outbreaks this winter. The winter period is always an extremely tough time for all health care professionals.
‘We now find ourselves once again asking the government, where is the long-awaited vaccination strategy? The UK Government must acknowledge these low uptake figures and focus its attention on ensuring equal access to vaccinations across all regions and socioeconomic groups.’
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