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NICE consults on ways to tackle falling child vaccination rates

1 September 2016

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The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has published a draft quality standard on boosting the number of vaccinated children.

Latest figures from NHS Digital show that millions of children are unprotected against potentially lethal diseases, as child vaccination rates in England have been falling for the past two years.

In some areas of the country, fewer than 1 in 10 children are vaccinated against diseases such as polio and diphtheria and, unless uptake rates improve, there is a risk of these diseases resurging.

Last year only a quarter of local authorities met World Health Organization targets to vaccinate 95% of children against measles, mumps and rubella.

NICE has therefore published a new draft quality standard, open for consultation until 29 September, which sets out how to drive up the number of under-19s receiving vaccinations.

Professor Gillian Leng, deputy chief executive at NICE, said: “Around three million children and young people may have missed a mumps, measles and rubella (MMR) vaccine.

“With so many children open to exposure we are at risk of a serious outbreak.

“This variation in uptake across the country is unacceptable and we need to do more to ensure every child across the country gets the vaccinations they are supposed to.

“We now need peoples’ views to make sure we have set the right priorities to tackle this variation.

“Vaccinations don’t just protect the people receiving them – vaccination also protects all of us by eliminating infections from the country.”

The quality standard includes five statements that set out priorities to drive up the number of immunisations given to children and young people.

It says that parents or carers of children who miss immunisation appointments should be followed up by telephone or with a text as this makes them more likely to rebook.

The standard also notes that young offenders are less likely to be immunised than other young people outside the system and suggests they have their records checked for missed vaccinations on entering prison.

NICE is also encouraging health visitors and nurses to check if children have missed vaccinations during their usual reviews at the start of school or college.

Registered stakeholders are now able to submit their views on the draft quality standard via the NICE website.

The final quality standard is expected in January 2017.