Prime Minister Boris Johnson orders urgent action to improve vaccination uptake after more than 230 cases of measles were reported in the UK during first quarter of 2019.

While confidence in the UK’s world-leading vaccination programme remains high – with uptake exceeding 90% for most childhood immunisations – there has been a small but steady decline in coverage in recent years.  This means that the UK has lost its ‘measles-free’ status with the World Health Organisation (WHO) – three years after the virus was eliminated in the country. The WHO have stated that in the first six months of 2019 reported measles cases globally are almost three times as many as the same time last year. Measles is now endemic in countries including France, Germany and Italy.

The PM has now called for health leaders to renew their efforts to meet 95% for both doses of MMR. Currently just 87% of children are getting their second dose of the jab, which has likely contributed to the spread of measles.

Action to achieve this includes:

  • NHS England writing to GPs urging them to promote ‘catch up’ vaccination programmes for MMR for 10-11 year olds, as well as all those 5-25 year olds who have not had two doses of the jab;
  • Strengthening the role of local immunisation coordinators – healthcare professionals that promote vaccines particularly with hard-to-reach families.
  • Addressing parents’ concerns about vaccines by updating the advice on NHS.uk specifically to address misleading information about the dangers of vaccines
  • Calling a summit of social media companies to discuss how they can play their part in promoting accurate information about vaccination
  • The Department for Health and Social Care – working with Public Health England and NHS England – delivering a comprehensive strategy to address the issue in the Autumn.

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