Yorkshire Times
A Voice of the Free Press
5:14 PM 26th March 2024

Latest Childhood Vaccination Uptake Statistics Published - 26 March 2024


The latest uptake figures for routine childhood immunisations have been published by the UK Health Security Agency for October to December 2023, in the quarterly COVER report. COVER monitors vaccine coverage for children in the UK at 12 months, 24 months and 5 years of age.

In this quarter, coverage in one-year-olds in England (excluding London) was at least 92% for all immunisations except rotavirus*. However, for 2-year-olds in England, coverage for some vaccines still falls below 90%. For 5-year-olds in England, coverage of the ‘6-in-1’ and MMR2 vaccines has increased slightly since the last quarter (by 0.2% and 0.5% respectively). Overall, coverage of all vaccines is down from the peak levels reached previously.

Children are offered different vaccines by the NHS at different stages of their childhood to protect against the most serious diseases. The vaccines offered at 8, 12 and 16 weeks offer protection against 9 different infections. The first MMR vaccine is then offered at 24 months and top-up doses are also offered just before starting school at aged 3 years and 4 months. A recent survey from UKHSA found that the majority of parents have confidence in the NHS programme, with 89% agreeing that vaccines work, are safe (84%) and trusted (82%).

While the recent data is fairly stable, there has been a consistent decline in uptake of the childhood vaccination programme over the last decade. In areas where vaccination uptake is lower, the chances of an outbreak of infectious disease are increased, as seen with the recent measles outbreak in the West Midlands. Parents are reminded not to wait for cases in their areas, and to make sure they protect their children with vaccination.

To highlight the importance of vaccination for children, UKHSA has recently launched a national marketing campaign encouraging parents to protect their children with vaccination, alongside an operational catch-up campaign being run by the NHS.

Dr Mary Ramsay, Head of Immunisation at UKHSA, said:
"Vaccination is one of the most important things we can do to give children the very best start in life. If children aren’t vaccinated, they’re not protected. So it’s concerning that uptake has stabilised at such low levels in the final months of 2023.

"We call on parents to help us reverse the downward trend we’ve seen over the past decade. If we can achieve the World Health Organization’s target of 95% coverage we can prevent these infections coming back. We are asking parents not to wait until measles is on your doorstep and to remember the impact that these illnesses can have on children, young people and even adults.

"Unless action is taken and uptake improves, we are likely to see the diseases that these vaccines prevent against re-emerging"

*with the exception of the rotavirus vaccine which is only offered up to 6 months of age, all other vaccines are available to children in the current cohort at any time and would have been captured in the report if given by their first birthday.