26 September 2019
NHS Digital has released the annual report on NHS Immunisation Statistics, England, 2018–19 today.
In response, the British Society for Immunology has released the following statement.
Dr Doug Brown, Chief Executive of the British Society for Immunology, said:
“Today’s publication of the childhood vaccination statistics marks another year where England does not reach the recommended uptake level of 95% on any of the routine childhood vaccinations at the correct timepoint. Now is the time for positive action to address this downward trend to ensure we can prevent the spread of infectious diseases within our communities. Vaccines save lives and are the safest and most effective method to protect our children against disease.
“The statistics for England paint a concerning picture with decreases observed in the uptake of all 13 routine vaccinations. Low levels of vaccination coverage matter as it means these diseases have the potential to spread within our communities, infecting unvaccinated people, including vulnerable individuals unable to have vaccinations such as young babies or people with cancer. We have already seen the consequences of this in the high number of measles cases recorded in England over the last year and the subsequent loss of our ‘measles-free’ status by the World Health Organization.
“Measles is a highly infectious disease and to stop its spread, and indeed that of other diseases, we need to meet the World Health Organization target of 95% vaccine uptake. Today’s statistics show that only 90.3% of children receive the first MMR vaccine by age 2, with 86.4% receiving the second MMR vaccine by their fifth birthday. We can and must do better.
“There are many positive actions that we can take to increase vaccine uptake, many of which were outlined in the Government’s recent announcement of a forthcoming vaccine strategy. Initiatives such as strengthening the role of immunisation co-ordinators, ensuring services are accessible and widening services to go out into communities are all strategies that we know work. Additionally, engaging with parents to answer their questions and provide accurate information on vaccines is key to success. However, for these initiatives to be successful, we must ensure our immunisation services are properly funded.
“The UK is a world leader in vaccine research and the British Society for Immunology is committed is working with healthcare professionals 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 2018–19 at https://digital.nhs.uk/data-and-information/publications/statistical/nhs-immunisation-statistics/england-2018-19.
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 External Affairs
Tel: +44(0) 203 019 5912; Mob: +44(0) 7703 807 444
Teresa Prados, Communications Officer
Tel: +44(0) 203 019 5911
The British Society for Immunology is the UK organisation representing scientists and clinicians who study the immune system. www.immunology.org.