Mumps, measles and rubella are infectious diseases that can have serious complications such as meningitis, swelling of the brain, deafness and complications in pregnancy. In England, MMR vaccination rates fell after a 1998 study linked the MMR vaccine with autism. However, this work has since been discredited. Since then national MMR vaccination rates have increased in the population, but overall are still somewhat short of achieving the national target.
What do we know?
Overall coverage rates for primary immunisations in Shropshire are relatively high. However, in Shropshire the percentage coverage (90% in 2010-11) for five year olds for MMR is not meeting the national target (94%). There has been an increase in uptake in the first three quarters of 2011-12, although this is still not on target. In comparison to the national figures MMR at five years old is significantly above average. However, there is some variation between GP practices.
What are we doing?
Immunisation clinics are provided by GP practices and invites are sent to parents when their children are 12 months, 24 months and five years old to attend a clinic. Currently in Shropshire there is no domiciliary service to follow up children who miss their appointments. However, when immunisation staff receive training they are notified of the shortfall in MMR vaccinations and encouraged to try to increase their uptake.
What can we do?
NICE has produced guidance (PH21) on increasing uptake in immunisations in people under 19 years old in areas where uptake is low. The guidance includes recommendations such as:
- Multifaceted, coordinated immunisation programmes should be adopted to increase timely immunisations among low uptake groups
- Accurate and structured systems and methods for recording immunisations to inform on the vaccination status of people aged under 19 years
- Training of staff involved in immunisations, with the training updated on a regular basis
- Nurseries, schools and colleges and health professionals should work with parents to encourage these schools to become vaccination locations and to promote uptake of immunisations
- Improve access to and information about immunisations to those groups with low uptake