THE number of children getting the MMR vaccination in Wigan has fallen for the first time in the last few years.
Between April 2014 and March 2015, 94.4 per cent of children had the vaccination against measles, mumps and rubella by their second birthday in the borough, down from 95.3 per cent in 2013-14.
The percentage of children getting the vaccination has been rising steadily over the last few years from 91.2 per cent in 2010-11, according to figures released by the Health and Social Care Information Centre.
The number of children getting the Meningococcal group C and pneumococcal conjugate vaccine has also dipped, dropping from 95.3 per cent in 2013-14 to 94.8 per cent in 2014-15 and 95.6 per cent to 95.1 per cent respectively.
There was a slight rise in the so called “5 in 1” vaccine (against diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, polio, and Haemophilus influenzae type b) from 97.6 per cent in 2013-14 to 97.7 per cent in 2014-15.
For MMR, Wigan is higher than both the North West average of 94 per cent and the average for England, 92.3 per cent but below the 95 per cent target which is enough to prevent the diseases spreading in the community.
Dr David Elliman, an immunisation expert for the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said: “It is disappointing that uptake of NHS immunisations have not continued to rise, however the falls are very small.
“This could be read as children not receiving the vaccination or alternatively, it could be a lack of data collection linked to considerable pressures on staff working in the NHS.
“In view of the considerable upheaval that the NHS is going through, it’s a credit to staff that we haven’t seen bigger falls in uptake.”
A discredited health study linking the MMR vaccine to autism meant the rates of children receiving the vaccination dropped dramatically a decade ago.
Between 1996 and 2004, the numbers dropped from 92 per cent to around 80 per cent.
The number of children being vaccinated had been increasing every year since 2007-08 and eventually reached record levels before the latest dip in vaccination rates.
Dr Mary Ramsay, the head of immunisation at Public Health England urged parents to check that their children are up-to-date with their vaccinations and to contact their GP as soon as possible if they are unsure.