Has your child had their MMR jab? New figures reveal fall in uptake

Ten per cent of children aged five living in the East of England are not up to date with their two doses of the MMR vaccine.

Ten per cent of children aged five living in the East of England are not up to date with their two doses of the MMR vaccine. - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Parents and guardians are being urged to ensure their children are up to date with the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine as new figures reveal a fall in the take-up across the area.

A worrying ten per cent of children aged five living in the East of England are not up to date with their two doses of the MMR vaccine.

Figures for the NHS Herts Valleys CCG (Clinical Commissioning Group) - which covers St Albans and Harpenden - rank it at just 75th out of 105 CCGs nationwide when it comes to the percentage of children to have received their first MMR jab by the age of two (90.7 per cent) between July to September 2021.

That increases to 45th place (95.7%) for children to have received a first vaccine by their fifth birthday, but then slumps to 53rd (90%) for a second jab by the age of five.

However, that is a slight increase in the figures for July-September 2020, which stood at 87 per cent for a jab by the age of two, 95.2% for a first jab by five and 86.2% for a second jab by their fifth birthday.

It is still above the national average for England over the period July-September 2021, which is just 88.6 per cent for a first jab by two, 93.7% for children to receive a first vaccine by their fifth birthday, and just 85.5 per cent for a second jab by five.

NHS East and North Hertfordshire CCG

1st MMR jab at 2 yrs

Rank

1st MMR jab at 5 yrs

Rank

2nd MMR jab at 5 yrs

Rank

Jul-Sep 2020

93.8

97.0

93.5

Jul-Sep 2021

93.3

40

95.6

48

91.3

38

NHS Herts Valleys CCG

1st MMR jab at 2 yrs

Rank

1st MMR jab at 5 yrs

Rank

2nd MMR jab at 5 yrs

Rank

Jul-Sep 2020

87

95.2

86.2

Jul-Sep 2021

90.7

75

95.7

45

90.0

53

ENGLAND

1st MMR jab at 2 yrs

1st MMR jab at 5 yrs

2nd MMR jab at 5 yrs

Jul-Sep 2020

90.7

94.4

86.7

Jul-Sep 2021

88.6

93.7

85.5

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Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, there has been a significant drop in the numbers getting their children vaccinated against MMR and other childhood vaccines at the right time.

Coverage for the two doses of the MMR vaccine in five year olds in England is currently 90 per cent in the East of England, which is well below the 95 per cent World Health Organisation’s target needed to achieve and sustain measles elimination.

Measles is highly contagious so even a small decline in MMR uptake can lead to a rise in cases. It can lead to complications such as ear infections, pneumonia, and inflammation of the brain which require hospitalisation and on rare occasions can lead to long term disability or death. Since the introduction of the measles vaccine in 1968 it is estimated that 20 million measles cases and 4,500 deaths have been prevented in the UK

Children are offered two doses of the MMR vaccine by their registered GP surgery, the first when they turn one and the second at around three years and four months, before they start nursery or school. The NHS has continued to prioritise routine vaccinations throughout the pandemic, however some parents who haven’t had their child vaccinated against MMR said this was because they didn’t realise the NHS was still offering appointments, or they didn’t want to burden the NHS.

Dr Vanessa Saliba, consultant epidemiologist at the UK Health Security Agency said: “The MMR vaccine offers the best protection from measles, mumps and rubella which is why we’re calling on parents and carers to make sure their children are up to date with their two doses.

“Even a small drop in vaccine coverage can have a big impact on population immunity levels and lead to outbreaks.

“I would urge parents to check if their children are up to date with their MMR vaccines and if not to get them booked in as soon as they are able. It’s never too late to catch-up."