Diseases on the up as child vaccinations fall in Westminster and Kensington and Chelsea

Local Democracy Reporter

Too many parents in Westminster and Kensington and Chelsea are failing to get young children vaccinated against preventable diseases, an NHS report suggests.

It comes after the health service warned mumps cases are on the rise, with 235 new incidences recorded across London between January and the end of June this year, compared with 147 cases in all of 2018.

And there were 48 measles cases detected in May this year across the North West London division of the NHS. While the whole of 2018 saw 86 cases.

New data for 2018/19 showed the two boroughs consistently scored badly for uptake of essential vaccines, such as MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) and the “six in one” vaccine, which covers diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, haemophilus influenzae type-b, and hepatitis b. Rates of children receiving the jabs are also falling year-on-year, the report said.

Factors to blame include difficulties of booking appointments and staff shortages, as well as “hesitancy” and “complacency” among parents.

An online “anti vacc” movement has also drawn criticism from medical experts and the World Health Organisation.

Compared to the rest of England, the capital has the lowest rate of children getting the immunisations, which also include meningococcal b and c, and for pneumococcal disease (PCV).

But the new NHS report, which focuses on eight boroughs in north-west London, shows Westminster had the worst uptake rate in 2018/19 for MMR1, which is given to two-year-olds.

Despite Westminster having the most GP practices, its average uptake for the year was 73.5 per cent of children registered with the NHS. The London average was 81.9 per cent.

Second-worst out of the eight boroughs for MMR1 was Kensington and Chelsea, with 73.6 per cent.
For part two of the MMR jab, given to five-years-olds, all the boroughs fared even worse.

Westminster again had the lowest rate, with 60 per cent, followed by Kensington and Chelsea on 62.7 per cent, and Hammersmith and Fulham on 63.6 per cent.

Kensington and Chelsea had the worst immunisation rate in 2018/19 for the “six-in-one” jab.

For the six-in-one jab, given to babies aged between eight and 16-weeks, Kensington and Chelsea’s uptake was 80.1 per cent. The London average was 86.8 per cent, and Westminster was second-worst with an average uptake of just 83.8 per cent.

Westminster and Kensington and Chelsea also both had the worst rates for the PCV, Hib/MenC boosters, given at the age of two.

The report said London, compared to the rest of England, struggles with vaccination rates due to: “high population mobility… increasing fiscal pressures and demands on health services, and a decreasing vaccinating workforce [staff shortages].”

However it said the data could be undermined due to poor records of whether some children from abroad have already received some jabs.

Data from each child’s medical record is fed to the north-west London system on a monthly basis by individual GP practices in each borough.

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