As thousands of parents across the South West prepare their children to start primary school in the next few weeks, Public Health England (PHE) South West is warning that 5,000 five-year-olds in the region may not be fully up to date with some routine immunisations.
These worrying estimates, released as part of PHE’s Value of Vaccines campaign, show that some four and five-year olds are starting school at unnecessary risk of serious diseases, compared to the majority of their classmates, prompting a call for parents to check their children’s Red Books to ensure they are up to date with scheduled immunisations.
In the UK, dose one of the MMR vaccine, which protects against measles, mumps and rubella, is usually given to infants at around 12 months of age. A second dose is given before school, usually at three years and four months of age, to ensure best protection. Two doses of MMR in a lifetime are needed for a person to be considered fully protected. The 4-in-1 pre-school booster is also usually offered at three years and four months of age and protects against diphtheria, whooping cough, tetanus and polio.
Around 680,000 five-year-olds start school in England each year according to Department for Education figures. Based on percentage uptake from latest vaccination coverage figures * PHE estimates that:
- More than 30,000 (around 1 in 19) five-year-olds may still need to receive their first dose of MMR, leaving them significantly more at risk compared to pupils who are fully vaccinated. Around 2,000 of these children are in the South West
- Around 90,000 (around 1 in 7) five-year-olds in England may still need to receive their second dose of MMR vaccine. Around 5,000 of these children are in the South West
- Around 100,000 (around 1 in 8) five-year-olds in England may still need their 4-in-1 pre-school booster that protects against diphtheria, whooping cough, tetanus and polio. Around 6,000 of these children are in the South West.
This means more than five per cent of five-year-olds are starting reception year having not received any MMR. This leaves them at high risk of measles at a time when outbreaks of the disease are occurring across the country.
Parents are advised to check that their children have received all their vaccinations on schedule by visiting the NHS website and referring to their Red Books. If in any doubt, they can contact our Immunisation Team or GP practice.
It’s never too late for a child to be immunised
PHE’s catch-up call for primary school starters follows the issue of a new GP contract from NHS England and Improvement, which also encourages 10 and 11-year-olds to catch up with any missing MMR vaccinations prior to reaching secondary school age.
For further information about vaccinations, visit https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinations