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BSI response to annual vaccination statistics for England

20 September 2017

NHS Digital has today released the annual report on NHS Immunisation Statistics, England, 2016–17.  In response, the British Society for Immunology has released the following statement.

Professor Peter Openshaw, President of the British Society for Immunology, said:

“Vaccines are amongst the simplest and most cost effective public health measures that we have and they continue to save countless lives. 

“Today’s publication of annual vaccination statistics for England paints a complex picture.  Although there seems to be little significant change from last year, overall vaccination rates are still below the World Health Organization’s recommended level of 95% coverage, with small decreases on some vaccine types.  Of particular concern is coverage of the MMR vaccine that prevents measles, mumps and rubella, overall uptake of which has decreased for the fourth year in a row. England’s coverage currently stands at 92% of children receiving the first MMR vaccine by their second birthday, with 88% receiving the second vaccine by their fifth birthday.  This is substantially lower than the WHO recommended levels of 95% coverage at these time points. 

“The UK is a world leader in vaccine research and we need to ensure that this excellence is reflected in the provision of vaccines to our children to prevent disease.  This not only protects the children themselves, but also people in our communities who are vulnerable because of health problems (for example, those with compromised immune systems, elderly people and cancer patients).

“The statistics indicate there is also significant regional variation in coverage levels, which has a substantial impact on our ability to stop the spread of these diseases within individual communities. It is crucial that the Government, NHS and local authorities work together to learn lessons from those areas that are performing well to ensure that vaccination rates increase and prevent the spread these harmful but preventable diseases.”  


Notes for editors

You can read the full NHS Digital report on England vaccinations statistics 2016-17 at

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, Communications Manager

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.