Not all heroes wear capes

Not all heroes wear capes

Vaccine heroes calling on parents to make sure children are up to date with their immunisations.

PHE North West is reminding people to make sure their children are up to date with their routine vaccinations as data indicates a slight decline in uptake for childhood immunisations.

Latest figures show that the percentage of children vaccinated against measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) by their second birthday in the North West decreased from 94.9% in 2012/13 to 92.9% in 2017/18.   Figures fell from 97.4% to 95.7% for the 6-in-1 vaccine within the same age group in the same five-year-period within the region. The 6-in-1 vaccine protects against diphtheria, tetanus, polio, hep B, pertussis and Haemophilus influenzae type b[Hib].

The call comes ahead of World Health Organization (WHO) ‘s European Immunisation Week (24 April – 30 April), which aims to raise awareness of the benefits of vaccination and celebrate the “vaccine heroes” who contribute in so many ways to protect lives.

Dr Will Welfare from PHE North West, said:

“In the UK we have a world-leading vaccination programme with vaccine uptake rates in England currently among the highest in Europe. However, there has been a small, steady decline in infant vaccination uptake since 2013 and we are still seeing outbreaks, sometimes serious, of diseases that can be prevented by vaccines.”

“The recent measles outbreak in Greater Manchester with 47 confirmed cases, predominantly in unvaccinated children, is a stark reminder that we still have work to do. Vaccine heroes in the NHS are doing amazing work day in and day out but it’s down to all of us to continue in our efforts to make sure children are offered vital protection against the risk of serious illness.”

Despite the year-on-year decline in uptake, latest quarterly data from PHE could be beginning to show early signs of a reversal, though it’s too early to predict what final annual uptake figures may show. The latest quarterly data suggests that vaccine coverage at 12 months of age increased by 0.4-0.9% for all vaccines compared with the previous quarter. This follows slow declines in uptake since 2012-13. According to research by the Royal Society of Public Health these small drops may be due to timing, availability and location of appointments.

PHE is urging all healthcare staff to speak confidently about the ‘value of vaccines’ as parents view them as the most trusted source of advice on immunisation.

Head of Immunisations at Public Health England, Dr Mary Ramsay, said:

“We are very lucky in England to have one of the most comprehensive programmes in the world and it is really great to see that parents trust our programme and most children are benefitting from this offer.

“We know from our history that inaccurate claims about the safety and effectiveness can lead to doubts about vaccines – putting people at risk of serious illness. It’s vital that all websites and social media platforms ensure accurate coverage of public health issues like vaccination.

“But, we also know that there are other factors which affect vaccine uptake, such as sending out reminders and making GP appointments as convenient as possible – these things will make the biggest difference in reducing numbers of children not getting vaccinated.”

“We cannot be complacent, as even small groups of children missing out on or delaying their vaccines leaves them and others vulnerable to serious or even fatal infections.”

Did you know

  • Vaccines save lives – after clean water, vaccination is the most effective public health intervention in the world. Vaccines save lives and promote good health. It’s vital that everyone eligible gets vaccinated.
  • Vaccines stop the spread of disease – even with better hygiene, sanitation and access to safe water, infections still exist. When people are not vaccinated, infectious diseases that usually we no longer see can quickly spread.
  • Vaccines prevent between 2-3 million deaths globally per year – but, if global vaccination coverage improved, this could increase by 1.5 million.
  • Vaccines help fight antimicrobial resistance – vaccination stops humans and animals from getting infected, reducing the use of antibiotics and the development of resistance.
  • Vaccines are the only way to eradicate disease – we have eradicated smallpox and are near to eradicating polio, both through using vaccines.
  • Vaccines protect you and those around you – if enough people get vaccinated against a disease it makes it harder for the disease to spread. This protects people who can’t get vaccinated, such as new born babies.
  • Vaccines protect your children – measles vaccination alone has prevented 20 million measles cases and 4,500 deaths in the UK.
  • The first ever vaccine was developed in 1796 and vaccination in its modern form has been widely available since the 1920s
  • In the last 50 years, vaccines have saved more lives than any other medical procedure or product
  • Polio was eliminated in the UK by 1988 thanks to the polio vaccination


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