South London child vaccine rates below average to protect against ‘deadly’ diseases

Parents and carers are being urged to get their children vaccinated against measles, mumps and rubella (MMR), as new figures show South London is below the national vaccine rate average.

The call to protect children against potentially fatal consequences comes after data published by NHS England for 2022/23 showed that MMR vaccination programmes in South London were not able to meet the uptake recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The WHO recommends that nationally at least 95 per cent of children have jabs for diseases that can be stopped by vaccines to prevent outbreaks.

The latest national average percentage of children receiving both MMR doses before their fifth birthday in England stands at 84.5 per cent.

Croydon, Merton and Wandsworth boroughs have the lowest uptake in South London of children in this category, all below 76 per cent.

Nearly 30 per cent of children in Croydon have not completed their MMR vaccine course before the age of five.

Bromley had the highest vaccination rate in South London for both MMR jabs by age five, at 87 per cent, with Bexley and Greenwich just behind.

The medical director for the NHS in South-west London, Dr John Byrne, said large numbers of unvaccinated children could be deadly.

Dr John Byrne, medical director for the NHS in South-west London (Picture: NHS South West London)

Dr Byrne said: “Vaccines are the most effective method parents and carers can use to protect children against disease. Most children in South-west London have been vaccinated against measles, mumps and rubella, however a quarter still remain unprotected.

“Measles, mumps and rubella easily spread between unvaccinated people and can be very serious, and even deadly, so it is important that parents make sure their children are protected against MMR as we head towards the winter months.

“Millions of doses are delivered every year. It is safe for your child and will protect them, their friends and the wider community from these unpleasant but preventable diseases.

“So please check your child is up to date with their vaccines and contact your GP surgery about any missed doses as soon as possible.

“Parents or carers who are unsure can check in their child’s red book or with their GP practice to see if they have had the two MMR doses.”

Measles is an infection that spreads very easily and can cause serious problems in some people. It usually starts with cold-like symptoms, followed by a rash a few days later. Some people may also get small spots in their mouth.

Rubella is a rare illness that causes a spotty rash. It usually gets better in about a week, but it can be serious in pregnancy.

Mumps is a contagious viral infection. It is most recognisable by the painful swellings in the side of the face under the ears, giving a person with mumps a distinctive ‘hamster face’ appearance.

Other symptoms of mumps include headaches, joint pain and a high temperature, which may develop a few days before the swelling of the parotid glands.

(Picture: Pixnio)

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