More lifesaving vaccines should be provided in convenient locations for parents to drive uptake, a new NHS review said this month. The findings are being published amid a reduction in children getting vaccinated, with analysis showing that one in seven children aged five had not had both doses of essential measles jabs.

A survey of parents and guardians of children in Surrey to explore attitudes to immunisation closed at the end of October and its outputs are now feeding into other local work aiming to improve uptake of childhood immunisation. Specifically, the survey aims to better understand views on vaccinating children and explore why some parents/guardians may or may not choose to get their children immunised against infectious diseases.

The new NHS review of immunisations in general practice says that the introduction of new ‘primary care networks’ nationwide – groups of GP surgeries joining up to help their communities – could mean more access to evening and weekend appointments, to offer more convenient access for parents.

Vaccines are the best chance of avoiding often serious illnesses. The MMR vaccine is a vaccine against measles, mumps, and rubella (German measles). The first dose is generally given to children around 9 to 15 months of age, with a second dose at 15 months to 6 years of age. Health professionals have warned that so-called vaccine complacency and hesitancy means people are missing out on vital protection, with coverage dropping in each of the past five years, below the important recommended level of 95%. Vaccination rates in England are at 91.2% for MMR.

There is also evidence that parents are influenced by negative messages about vaccines on social media, with an independent report from the Royal Society of Public Health showing two in five parents saying they are often or sometimes exposed to these messages online.

NHS medical director Professor Stephen Powis said: “One of the most effective, cheap and essential tools for keeping us all safe is a simple, free jab – it can save the life of your child.

“Looking at ways to expand access to appointments will make it even easier for parents to protect their children and with the NHS playing its part, it is vital that everyone takes up this life saving opportunity and isn’t swayed by the dangerous marketing of false information by anti-vaxxers.”

Our next Surrey Heartlands Partnership Forum event, taking place on Wednesday 15th January (2.00 – 5.00 pm venue TBC) will be partly focused on childhood immunisations and how we can encourage greater take-up locally.  If you’re interested in attending please email us at:  comms.surreyheartlands@nhs.net.