Boris Johnson today will lay out a number of measures designed to improve vaccination rates, including for measles, mumps and rubella (MMR).
The PM will call for health leaders to renew their efforts to meet 95% for both doses of MMR. Currently just 87% of children are getting their second dose of the jab, which has likely contributed to the spread of measles.
NHS England is writing to GPs urging them to promote ‘catch up’ vaccination programmes for MMR for 10-11 year olds, as well as all those 5-25 year olds who have not had two doses of the jab;
It also is calling on social media companies to discuss how they can play their part in promoting accurate information about vaccination; and
Ahead of the visit Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:
“After a period of progress where we were once able to declare Britain measles free, we’ve now seen hundreds of cases of measles in the UK this year. One case of this horrible disease is too many, and I am determined to step up our efforts to tackle its spread.”
“This is a global challenge and there’s a number of reasons why people don’t get themselves or their children the vaccines they need, but we need decisive action across our health service and society to make sure communities are properly immunised.”
“From reassuring parents about the safety of vaccines, to making sure people are attending follow-up appointments, we can and must do more to halt the spread of infectious, treatable diseases in modern-day Britain.”
Measles elimination status means that the virus is no longer circulating permanently in a country. The UK achieved measles-free status in 2016 after three years of limited spread due to high vaccination rates, but measles has since been spreading slowly in the UK for over 12 months.
In the first quarter of 2019, there were 231 confirmed cases of measles in the UK. Many of these were acquired abroad with some onward spread in under-vaccinated communities.
The Department for Health’s strategy to be published in the Autumn is also expected to:
- Ask the NHS to use technology to identify who may have missed a vaccination and make booking appointments easier, such as improved call/recall systems for those accessing immunisations, and more consistent use of these systems across UK healthcare to remind people of their vaccine appointments.
- As part of the GP contract review, examine wider questions of improving GP capacity to allow additional immunisation appointments – while also asking NHS England to consider other settings outside of a GP for vaccinations.
- Develop a major campaign with NHS England and Improvement, Public Health England and GP practices to support the importance of key vaccinations in protecting against potentially dangerous diseases.
- Work with DFE to explore more ways in which students can be informed about their health and wellbeing including the value of vaccinations – plus enabling them to critically assess misinformation spread online about certain vaccines.