Has your child had their MMR jab? New figures reveal fall in uptake

Ten per cent of children aged five living in the East of England are not up to date with their two doses of the MMR vaccine.

Ten per cent of children aged five living in the East of England are not up to date with their two doses of the MMR vaccine. - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Parents and guardians are being urged to ensure their children are up to date with the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine as new figures reveal a fall in the take-up across the area.

A worrying ten per cent of children aged five living in the East of England are not up to date with their two doses of the MMR vaccine.

Figures for the NHS East and North Hertfordshire CCG (Clinical Commissioning Group) - which covers Welwyn Hatfield and Potters Bar - rank it as 40th out of 105 CCGs nationwide when it comes to the percentage of children to have received their first MMR jab by the age of two (93.3 per cent) between July to September 2021.

That slumps to 48th place (95.6%) for children to have received a first vaccine by their fifth birthday, but then jumps to 38th (91.3%) for a second jab by the age of five.

That is a slight fall in the figures for July-September 2020, which stood at 93.8 per cent for a jab by the age of two, 97% for a first jab by five and 93.5% for a second jab by their fifth birthday.

It is still above the national average for England over the period July-September 2021, which is just 88.6 per cent for a first jab by two, 93.7% for children to receive a first vaccine by their fifth birthday, and just 85.5 per cent for a second jab by five.

Coverage for the two doses of the MMR vaccine in five year olds in England is currently 90 per cent in the East of England, which is well below the 95 per cent World Health Organisation’s target needed to achieve and sustain measles elimination.Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, there has been a significant drop in the numbers getting their children vaccinated against MMR and other childhood vaccines at the right time.

Most Read

Measles is highly contagious so even a small decline in MMR uptake can lead to a rise in cases. It can lead to complications such as ear infections, pneumonia, and inflammation of the brain which require hospitalisation and on rare occasions can lead to long term disability or death. Since the introduction of the measles vaccine in 1968 it is estimated that 20 million measles cases and 4,500 deaths have been prevented in the UK

Children are offered two doses of the MMR vaccine by their registered GP surgery, the first when they turn one and the second at around three years and four months, before they start nursery or school. The NHS has continued to prioritise routine vaccinations throughout the pandemic, however some parents who haven’t had their child vaccinated against MMR said this was because they didn’t realise the NHS was still offering appointments, or they didn’t want to burden the NHS.

Dr Vanessa Saliba, consultant epidemiologist at the UK Health Security Agency said: “The MMR vaccine offers the best protection from measles, mumps and rubella which is why we’re calling on parents and carers to make sure their children are up to date with their two doses.

“Even a small drop in vaccine coverage can have a big impact on population immunity levels and lead to outbreaks.

“I would urge parents to check if their children are up to date with their MMR vaccines and if not to get them booked in as soon as they are able. It’s never too late to catch-up."