Local London Assembly Member, Joanne McCartney AM, has called for more to be done to tackle the spread of misinformation around Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccinations. This follows the recent publication of figures by Unicef and the World Health Organisation (WHO) that estimate between 2010 and 2017 over half a million children in the UK did not receive their first dose of the vaccine. Ms McCartney urged CCGs and local authorities to spread word of the importance of immunisation.
The latest available data from the NHS shows that between 2017-2018, childhood MMR vaccination coverage in Enfield was 80.6% and in Haringey, 82.1%.
Both borough’s vaccination rate falls below the national average of 91% and WHO’s target of 95%.
Introduced in 1988, the MMR vaccine is provided to children to protect them against measles, mumps and rubella. These three diseases are highly infectious and can cause serious or fatal illnesses such as encephalitis, deafness and meningitis.
The vaccine is usually administered a month before a child’s first birthday and then followed up by a second injection before they start primary school. However, children up to the age of eighteen who initially missed an earlier vaccination, are entitled to a ‘catch-up’ injection on the NHS.
The Mayor of London has limited powers in this area. However, from City Hall, he is using his Healthy Early Years scheme to support early years providers to encourage and support the uptake and recording of immunisations for children under five and to offer advice to parents on where to go for vaccinations.
Local London Assembly Member, Joanne McCartney AM, said:
“It is very concerning that Enfield and Haringey are falling short of the national average and the target set by the World Health Organisation for MMR vaccination coverage.
“Amongst other factors, this is sadly a symptom of the spread of misinformation that surrounds the vaccine.
“Whilst the current pressures on their budgets need to be acknowledged, it is vital that CCGs and local authorities work to prioritise educational campaigns around the importance of immunisation.
“Londoners who missed their vaccine at an earlier age are at risk of developing a life-threatening illness, so it is important that they contact their GP as soon as possible to receive a catch-up injection”.