Number of Under-2s Receiving Vaccinations is Declining

NHS figures indicate that the percentage of children aged under two receiving the majority of routine vaccinations has diminished.

This is the third year in succession that the number of young people receiving the vaccine has declined.

Uptake of the first dose of the MMR vaccine has also receded to just under 92% coverage in the most recent financial year.

UK targets are set at 95%, considered satisfactory to prevent the diseases from spreading.

In 2015-16, only 88.2% of children had received both doses of the MMR vaccine by the age of five; a slight decrease from the 2014-15 figure after steady improvements in previous years.

It is thought that the links between the vaccine, autism and Crohn’s disease may continue to be affecting the coverage of MMR even today, despite a recent campaign which had improved vaccination rates.

But figures have evidently peaked, causing health campaigners concern over the level of vaccination coverage in the UK.

In 2015-16, 93.6% of children in England received their first course of immunisations – the 5-in-1 vaccine.

This protects against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio and haemophilus influenzae type b, with the jabs being administered at two, three and four months of age.

Just two years ago, the level of coverage had reached nearly 95%, but there has been a slight recession in the childhood vaccination rates across England since then.

There are also regional variations, with the level of vaccination being highest in the north east of England, and lowest in London.

Indeed, under 90% of children are inoculated in the capital, which is approximately 8% less than in the north east region.

NHS Digital noted that the coverage rates for vaccinations in England in the most recent financial year is now below that of the other nations which constitute Great Britain.

And this is the case for all routine childhood vaccinations that are measured at one, two and five years of age.

Prof Peter Openshaw, president of the British Society for Immunology, is extremely concerned about the decline in vaccination rates, and suggests that the situation compares unfavourably to many other European nations.

“We are behind many countries in our vaccine uptake, exposing our children to risks of potentially harmful and even fatal diseases. It is crucial that local authorities and the NHS take joint action to reverse this trend. There needs to be sufficient funding and skills to be able to both communicate the benefits of vaccination and to deliver vaccines efficiently and effectively to the people who need them.”


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