The call comes as the UK Health Security Agency launches a campaign warning that children are at risk of catching measles as the uptake of the infant MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) jab falls to a 10-year low. Figures show only 86 per cent of 5-year-olds have had two doses. To stop outbreaks this figure needs to be 95 per cent.
It means one in 10 children starting school could contract the serious virus. Although most children will recover quickly, measles can cause serious problems like pneumonia and meningitis.
England and Wales had wiped out the disease by 2017 – thanks to the vaccines – but as jab rates fell it bounced back and there were 991 cases in 2018.
Protect our health
Our Chief Executive Tom Nutt commented: “It’s important to remind people of the importance of routine vaccinations in protecting our health – vaccines are by far the most effective way of looking after ourselves and our loved ones and we’re fortunate in the UK to have such an effective childhood vaccination programme.
“It’s also worth reminding everyone that before the introduction of the MMR vaccine, mumps was the most common cause of viral meningitis in the UK – a disease that still affects some 6,000 people every year.
“This latest UKHSA data shows a small drop in uptake of some meningitis vaccines too. This shows how Covid has compounded the previous gradual but ongoing decline in the uptake of infant and child vaccines – we need to reverse this trend as even a small drop in vaccine uptake can have a big impact on our children’s health.”
Know your meningitis vaccines
Vaccines are available to prevent some types of meningitis but not all types can be prevented. That’s why it’s also vital to also know the signs and symptoms.
A MenB vaccine is offered to babies at 2, 4 and 12 months.
A MenC vaccine – combined with Hib – is offered to infants at 12-13 months.
From Autumn 2015, the MenACWY meningitis vaccine replaced the MenC vaccine for children in school. It is offered around 14 years of age.
Babies born on or after 1 January 2020 are offered the PCV pneumococcal vaccine at 12 weeks and 12-13 months