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Thousands fewer children immunised against common diseases because of lockdown

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Lockdown measures in England led to thousands fewer children receiving vital immunisations for a range of diseases include measles, diphtheria and whooping cough, Public Health England (PHE) has warned.

PHE has warned parents they should continue to get their children immunised regardless of lockdown and restrictions brought on by coronavirus.

During the first wave of coronavirus the government advised that children should continue to receive vaccinations as scheduled but despite these some appointments were delayed and the numbers of children vaccinated against common diseases fell compared to 2019.

PHE looked at data from almost 40% of GP surgeries for use of the common 6-in-1 vaccination for diseases including diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, and polio as well as uptake of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine to 19 October. 

In total 167,322 children had the 6-in-1 vaccine, a drop of 6,600 on the same period in 2019, a fall of almost 4%. A total of 167,670 children had the MMR jab, 4,700 fewer than in 2019, a drop of 2.8%.  Although the vaccinations recovered after lockdown the rates are still lower overall than 2019.

Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunisations at Public Health England, said: “Vaccines remain the best defence against infection. It’s essential we maintain the highest possible uptake to prevent a resurgence of serious and sometimes life-threatening diseases.

“Routine vaccinations are still available throughout the pandemic – it’s vital that we continue to make it as easy and safe as possible for parents to take their children to appointments.”

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Source: The Independent, 11 November 2020

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