Parents urged to get their children vaccinated as Wigan's MMR jab coverage behind target
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The MMR jab protects against measles, mumps and rubella – highly infectious conditions which can easily spread between unvaccinated people and have life-changing consequences.
For a child to be fully protected, they should receive two vaccinations, the first around their first birthday and the second when they are three.
NHS Digital figures show 90.1 per cent of youngsters in Wigan were fully vaccinated by their fifth birthday in 2021-22.
This was behind the 95 per cent target set by the World Health Organisation, and a decrease from 91.3 per cent in 2020-21.
Across England, the uptake rate has fallen to the lowest level seen in 11 years – 85.7 per cent of five-year-olds were fully vaccinated in 2021-22, compared to 86.6 per cent the previous year.
Dr Doug Brown, chief executive of the British Society for Immunology, said: "Immediate action to reverse this alarming multi-year downward trend and protect our communities from preventable diseases is urgently needed.
"Vaccines save lives and are the safest and most effective method to protect our children against disease.
"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 can and must do better."
In the North West, 87.1 per cent of youngsters have had both doses of the MMR jab.
The NHS is now contacting the parents of around 740,000 children aged between one and six who have not yet had one or both doses of the MMR vaccine, encouraging them to make an appointment with their child’s GP practice.
Steve Russell, NHS director of vaccinations and screening, said: “It is important that parents make sure their children are protected against MMR as they return to school, and are up-to-date with their flu vaccination if eligible as we head into the winter months.
“The MMR vaccine is one of the most studied vaccines in the world, with millions of doses given every year – it is safe for your child and will protect them, their friends and the wider community from these unpleasant but preventable diseases."
Rachael Musgrave, director of public health at Wigan Council, said: “The Covid-19 pandemic caused widespread disruption to all of our lives, including interrupting our access to routine appointments, such as vaccinations.
“It is really important that everyone ensures their children are up to date with the MMR vaccine in order to reduce the chance of catching these diseases. The MMR vaccine is safe and effective and protects against measles, mumps and rubella which can sometimes be very serious if a child becomes ill with them.
“Contact your GP or your health visitor if you need to book an MMR jab for your child or to check if they are up-to-date with their vaccinations if you are unsure.”