Whilst the increase is welcome news, the figure is still not back up to the pre-Covid levels of around 88%.
The latest data, contained in the UK Health Security Agency’s Meningococcal ACWY (MenACWY) vaccine coverage for the NHS adolescent vaccination programme in England, academic year 2020 to 2021, also shows uptake varying between different areas – from 34.8% in Hillingdon to 98.2% in West Berkshire and Herefordshire.
The figures show that Covid is still having an impact on the delivery of the school programme. However, with not all providers able to capture and report on vaccinations delivered outside of the school setting, reported vaccine coverage may be an underestimate in some areas.
Moving in the right direction
Our chief executive, Dr Tom Nutt, said: “It’s good to see these figures moving in the right direction and more of our young people getting protected against MenACWY through the programme.
“Although coverage has improved significantly since last year it is still not back up to pre-pandemic levels and there will be many who are not taking up these potentially lifesaving vaccinations.
“I would urge everybody to take advantage of the MenACWY vaccination when it is offered – as we know vaccination is the best way to protect yourself against the devastation that meningitis can bring.
“Of course, school attendance rates were lower than normal last year due to the pandemic, which will have had an impact on these figures. As we hopefully start to emerge from this pandemic I’m hopeful we can see further improvement in these rates and in the protection of our young people.”
With no vaccine available to protect against all types of meningitis we’re also urging parents to learn the signs and symptoms and to seek urgent medical attention if meningitis is suspected.
The MenACWY meningitis vaccine replaced the MenC vaccine for children in school from Autumn 2015. It is offered around 14 years of age.