18 September 2018
NHS Digital has today released the annual report on NHS Immunisation Statistics, England, 2017–18. In response, the British Society for Immunology has released the following statement.
Dr Doug Brown, Chief Executive of the British Society for Immunology, said:
“Vaccination saves lives. It is one of the safest and most cost-effective methods we have to prevent the spread of disease.
“Today’s publication of the annual vaccination statistics for England paints a concerning picture with decreases observed in the uptake of nine of the twelve routine vaccinations. Worryingly, this decline follows an ongoing trend from previous years and we are not reaching the World Health Organization target of 95% coverage nationally with any of the vaccines at the correct timepoint. Lower levels of vaccination mean that these harmful diseases can spread within our communities, infecting people who have not been vaccinated, including vulnerable individuals who are unable to have vaccinations such as young babies, people with compromised immune systems or people with cancer.
“Today’s statistics show that 87.2% of five-year-olds have received both MMR vaccines – well below the 95% level recommended by the World Health Organization. We are currently witnessing the impact of this lower vaccination rate in the ongoing measles outbreak in England. To date, 876 cases of measles have been confirmed this year, more than three times the number recorded in the whole of 2017. Measles is a highly infectious disease that can lead to serious consequences for those infected. However, we have at our disposal a safe and effective vaccine that can stop the spread of measles in its tracks if enough people are immunised. We need to redouble efforts to ensure that vaccination rates improve and that our communities benefit from continued protection against this serious disease.
“There is positive action we can take to increase vaccine uptake. The Government needs to work with the NHS and local authorities to prioritise immunisation services and learn lessons from regions that are performing well. This includes making sure that services are accessible and that parents have ready access to reliable, evidence-based information about the huge health benefits that vaccines confer. The UK is a world leader in vaccine research and the British Society for Immunology is committed is working with doctors and scientists to ensure that this excellence is reflected in the provision of vaccines to our children to prevent disease.”
Notes for editors
You can read the full NHS Digital report on England vaccinations statistics 2017–18 at https://digital.nhs.uk/data-and-information/publications/statistical/nhs-immunisation-statistics/england-2017-18.
You can download a copy of the British Society for Immunology’s 'Guide to childhood vaccinations'. This guide is designed to answer common questions that parents have around how vaccinations work and why they are important.
For more information, please contact:
Jennie Evans, Head of Communications
Tel: +44(0) 203 019 5912; Mob: +44(0) 7703 807 444
The British Society for Immunology is the UK organisation representing scientists and clinicians who study the immune system. www.immunology.org