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GPs expected to text parents vaccine reminders under Tory plans

by Eleanor Philpotts
27 November 2019

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The Conservatives have pledged to roll out a national vaccine text reminder system – delivered by GP practices – if the party wins next month’s election. 

Health secretary Matt Hancock announced that he’ll introduce a nationwide automatic text alert to drive uptake of vaccinations.

Parents will be texted from their GP surgeries when their children are due to receive vaccinations. Those who don’t attend will also receive follow-ups as further reminders.

Mr Hancock stated that this will be implemented within 30 days of a Conservative victory on 12th December. 

He said: ‘The science is clear: vaccines save lives, and ensuring that children are properly immunised is one of the most important things any parent can do for their children.

‘So we will introduce a national vaccination reminder system, to make sure as many children as possible are vaccinated.’

‘A sensible measure’

The RCGP said it supported the plan, with its new chair Professor Martin Marshall describing ensuring patients are appropriately vaccinated as ‘a priority’ for GPs and teams.

Professor Marshall said: ‘GP practices have systems in place to notify patients when their childhood vaccinations are due, and follow up children who miss their jabs at the scheduled time – as well as flagging the medical records of those have not received a vaccination for follow-up on an opportunistic basis.

‘However, these systems will be on a practice by practice basis, and a more standardised approach across the whole country would be a sensible measure.

‘Parents need to be clear about the hard scientific evidence behind the safety and effectiveness of these vaccines, and to understand the wider impact on society if they decide not to vaccinate their children. All parents want to do the best for their children and having their children vaccinated is one of the most important things they can ever do.’

Last month, an NHS review suggested that the national GP immunisation programme could include more vaccines and incentives to help boost coverage, while the National Audit Office also recently found that England missed its targets for almost all preschool vaccines in 2018/19. 

The news also follows a decline in coverage for all childhood vaccinations across the past year.