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British Society for Immunology response to NHS Immunisation Statistics, England, 2020–21

30 September 2021

Today, NHS Digital has released the annual report on childhood vaccination coverage statistics for England in 2020-21.

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 annual childhood vaccination statistics for England shows a mixed picture with small and welcome increases in coverage of two vaccines but more significant decreases in uptake for nine out of the 13 routine vaccinations. In particular, the 2020/21 statistics show that only 86.6% of five-year-olds have received both MMR vaccines – well below the 95% level recommended by the World Health Organization. This increasingly worrying multi-year downward trend calls for urgent action.

“Vaccination is one of the safest and most effective methods we have to save lives and stop the spread of infectious diseases. Low levels of vaccination mean that harmful diseases such as measles can spread within our communities, infecting unvaccinated people, including vulnerable individuals unable to have vaccinations such as young babies and those with compromised immune systems or cancer. This is preventable but only if increasing childhood vaccination coverage is made a national priority. 

“The COVID-19 pandemic is not over but the negative impact of these other preventable diseases isn't either. There are so many positives we can take from the highly successful COVID-19 vaccination programme – now is the time to maintain this momentum for routine vaccinations to deliver the life-saving benefits to our youngest generation.

“The British Society for Immunology has been calling on urgent action from the Government to implement the changes we know will increase childhood vaccine uptake to turn this concerning trend around. Firstly, they must publish the long-awaited Vaccine Strategy on the steps they plan to take to increase childhood vaccine uptake as a matter of priority. Secondly, they must use the publication of this comprehensive strategy as the springboard to invest in routine vaccination services to strengthen the role of local immunisation co-ordinators, ensure services are accessible, widen community outreach and increase engagement with parents to answer their questions on vaccines. 

“Lastly, Government, local authorities and healthcare professionals should work together to learn from the successful approaches used in the COVID-19 vaccination rollout to provide catch up vaccination services for the children who missed out during the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure that our communities benefit from continued protection against these serious but preventable diseases.”

Notes for editors
You can read the full NHS Digital report on England vaccinations statistics 2020–21 at

You can download a copy of the British Society for Immunology’s booklet on “A 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:
Teresa Prados, Communications Manager
Tel: +44(0) 7464 621 014

Jennie Evans, Director of External Affairs
Tel: +44(0) 7703 807 444

The British Society for Immunology is the UK organisation representing scientists and clinicians who study the immune system.