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Thousands of children at risk as vaccination rates fall in England

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Thousands of children face an increased risk of catching deadly diseases in England, and significant outbreaks are likely, child health experts have warned, as “alarming” figures show vaccination levels have plunged across virtually all jabs.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) is urging parents and guardians to ensure their children have received the routine jabs against potentially serious diseases, such as polio and measles, after official data revealed a drop in vaccination rates.

NHS Digital data published Thursday showed vaccine coverage fell in 13 out of the 14 routine programmes for children up to five years old in England in 2021-22, compared with the year before.

“Today’s publication of the childhood vaccination statistics in England is extremely worrying,” said Dr Doug Brown, the chief executive of the British Society for Immunology. “Immediate action to reverse this alarming multi-year downward trend and protect our communities from preventable diseases is urgently needed.”

Helen Bedford, a professor of child public health at UCL’s Institute of Child Health, said the country was now facing “the concerning double whammy of many children being unprotected and the inevitability of disease rates increasing”.

“In this situation, as night follows day, significant outbreaks of disease are likely. Measles disease is a particular concern as it is so highly infectious that any small decline in vaccine uptake results in outbreaks.

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Source: The Guardian, 29 September 2022

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