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Vaccination rates for babies in Surrey "well below safe levels"

Vaccination rates for babies in Surrey "well below safe levels"

Published by Lucinda Horsley at 11:33am 12th July 2019.

Vaccination rates for jabs meant to protect babies from potentially deadly diseases in Surrey are "well below safe levels".

The British Society for Immunology says the low rate puts infants and those with weak immune systems at particular risk, and has called for government action to boost uptake.

Babies normally receive the so-called six-in-one jab, which protects against six serious infections including polio, whooping cough and diphtheria, in the first few months of their lives.

But new Public Health England data shows that only 85.4% of those in Surrey who had their first birthday in the six months to March had the vaccination.

It means 984 children in the area missed out on the injection.

Surrey falls far short of the 95% vaccination rate recommended by the World Health Organisation to prevent outbreaks.

In Hampshire, 337 children in the area missed out on the injection - falling just short of the 95% recommended. 

Across England, the vaccination rate for the jab was 92%.

Professor Arne Akbar, president of the British Society for Immunology, described the low rate as “concerning”.

“Lower vaccination rates mean that these diseases can potentially spread within our communities, with unvaccinated babies and individuals with compromised immune systems particularly at risk.”

Professor Akbar said the Government should work with the NHS and councils to ensure vaccination services are accessible and that reliable information is available. He added:

“Vaccination saves lives and is one of the safest and most effective methods we have to prevent disease.

“We owe it to our children to make sure we do all we can to provide them with that protection.”

Babies should have three rounds of the six-in-one vaccination at eight, 12 and 16 weeks of age.

It helps them develop a strong immunity to diphtheria, hepatitis B, haemophilus influenza type b, polio, tetanus and whopping cough.

The NHS describes all of these as “serious childhood diseases”.

Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunisation at PHE, said:

“Vaccination is essential to protect children from killer diseases.

"When it comes to vaccines, evidence suggests that parents trust the advice of healthcare professionals but the timing and availability of appointments can sometimes make it difficult for busy families to get their children vaccinated.

“We have a fantastic NHS vaccination programme but more can be done to achieve the best possible protection for everyone.

"Sending out reminders and making GP appointments as convenient as possible will make the biggest difference.”

 

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