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Uptake of key children’s vaccinations continues to decline

Why is uptake of vaccinations falling?


Continuing year-on-year falls in uptake for nine of the 12 routine immunisations given to children up to the age of five years have been revealed by NHS Digital figures for 2017/18.


Coverage for the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine for children reaching their second birthday fell to 91.2% compared with 91.6% during the previous year. The figures also reveal that coverage of the vaccine has fallen for four years in a row.


The World Health Organisation target is 95%.


Provisional figures show that 10 September some 876 confirmed measles cases were reported in England.


The NHS Digital report shows coverage for the 5-in-1 vaccine for diphtheria, whooping cough (pertussis), tetanus, polio and Hib disease at 12 months has also fallen from 94.7% in 2012/13 to 93.1% in 2017/18.


The reasons for the decline in immunisation uptake are not clear.


Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health immunisation expert Dr David Elliman suggested contributing factors may include difficulties with data collection, heavy workloads in general practice and a shortage of practice nurses.


Further information Measles outbreaks across England

NHS Digital: Childhood vaccination coverage statistics England, 2017-18

RCPCH: RCPCH responds to latest data on vaccination uptake