A new NHS review has found that more lifesaving vaccines should be provided in convenient locations for parents in order to drive uptake.
The findings are being published amid a reduction in children getting vaccinated, with recent reports showing that one in seven five-year-olds may not be fully up to date with some routine immunisations, with the figure rising to around one in four children in London.
The UK also recently lost its ‘measles-free’ status with the World Health Organisation (WHO) – just three years after the virus was eliminated in the country. Due to the lack of vaccinations, widening pockets of unvaccinated children have created a pathway to the measles outbreaks hitting several countries around the world in recent months.
As part of the drive, health leaders will look at how payments to GPs will ensure they vaccinate as many children and young people as possible against measles, mumps and rubella (MMR), as vaccines are often the best chance of avoiding such serious illnesses.
The new review of immunisations in general practice says that the introduction of new ‘primary care networks’ nationwide – groups of GP surgeries joining up to help their communities – could mean more access to evening and weekend appointments, to offer more convenient access for parents.
The anti-vaccination movement and general vaccine complacency of recent years means that people are missing out on “vital” protection, with coverage dropping in each of the past five years, below the important recommended level of 95%, with vaccination rates at just 91.2% for MMR.
Professor Stephen Powis, NHS medical director, reminded that the “simple, free jab” can “save the life of your child.”
He went on to say “Looking at ways to expand access to appointments will make it even easier for parents to protect their children and with the NHS playing its part, it is vital that everyone takes up this life saving opportunity and isn’t swayed by the dangerous marketing of false information by anti-vaxxers.”
On news of the survey results, the NHS will now bring together GP groups and other health professionals to agree collective action to reverse falling vaccination rates.