Tens of thousands in East of England take up offer of MMR vaccination for under fives

Since January, tens of thousands of parents of unvaccinated children aged under five have taken up the offer to get their unvaccinated children protected against the potentially life-threatening diseases of mumps, measles and rubella (MMR). This is partly thanks to a new and innovative call and recall service, set up by NHS England in the East of England, which has been contacting the parents of children who may have missed their chance to be vaccinated and offering them a convenient appointment to get protected.


Between January and March this year over 41,000 doses of MMR have been delivered – that’s an increase of more than 5,000 doses when compared to the same period last year.


The call and re-call service is first targeting under five-year-olds and later in the year plans to extend the same offer to older age groups who also missed out on an MMR vaccine. In the meantime, anyone wishing to get vaccinated sooner can contact their GP. This new service allows for a supportive and safe space for parents and young people to discuss vaccination with knowledgeable nurses and the option to book convenient vaccine appointments, many over the half-term break.


Diseases such as measles have been circulating in increasing numbers in the community and is not just a rash. About one in five people with measles will end up having to go to hospital, and one in 15 people will get serious complications and could even die. Large outbreaks of measles have recently been occurring in many parts of the world including the UK. The MMR vaccine has been used safely here for nearly 40 years, protecting millions of people from contracting these highly contagious diseases. While 91% of two-year-olds have had their first MMR in the region, this is still one of the most infectious diseases that we know of and can have very serious consequences. It is estimated that between 15 to 18 people can be infected when exposed to a single case of measles if they are not immune. You only need to have spent 15 minutes in the same room as someone with measles to have been exposed to the virus.


Typically, two doses of the MMR vaccine are given, just after a child’s first and third birthdays. However, anyone of any age can ask for an MMR vaccine if they have not received two doses or are unsure of their vaccination status.


Dr Eleanor Powers, Head of Public Health Commissioning (Immunisation) for the NHS in the East of England said:

“I urge families to take up this potentially life-saving vaccination offer as soon as they can. Measles is a very serious disease, yet we have made it easier than ever to receive your MMR vaccine so please protect your family now. The MMR vaccine is safe and effective, offering protection against measles, mumps and rubella which are dangerous, highly infectious illnesses which can cause significant complications. Measles is not just a childhood disease and can be damaging at any age. If caught during pregnancy, it can also cause stillbirth, miscarriage, and low birth weight. The NHS strongly recommends young adults to catch-up on any missed doses before thinking about starting a family. If you have questions just come and talk to us.


Dr Sanhita Chakrabarti, Deputy Chief Medical Officer and Clinical Lead for Children’s and Maternity Services at Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes Integrated Care Board, said: “With the number of cases of measles increasing sharply in many parts of the country, we are strongly recommending that parents make sure their children are up to date with their two MMR doses. To check, look at your child’s personal child health record, sometimes known as their red book. It is never too late to catch up. Remember the MMR vaccine is free on the NHS, whatever your age. If anyone has missed one or both doses of the MMR vaccine, contact your GP practice to book an appointment or take advantage of these special catch-up clinics being offered in your area.


“There are lots of reasons why your child may not be up to date on all of their immunisations.  We know that families sometimes change their minds, so even if you previously chose not to have your child vaccinated, the opportunity is still there. You can make sure your child doesn’t fall behind at school from an absence which is entirely preventable.”


For more information about what vaccines you or your child are eligible for please visit the NHS website:

NHS vaccinations and when to have them – NHS (


To check if you are fully vaccinated, look at your own or your child’s ‘red book’, or you can call your GP if you are unsure – or if you had your vaccines abroad.


If you would like to talk to someone about vaccination or if you would like a catch-up vaccine, please either contact your GP or contact the community immunisation teams and they will be able to tell you how to access a catch-up clinic (full contacts listed below).




Notes to editors


  • There is no medical treatment for measles, and it can be life threatening and/or life limiting.
  • Gelatine – there is a non-porcine MMR vaccine option.
  • MMR vaccine is not suitable during pregnancy and so women should protect themselves before or directly after pregnancy.
  • Building immunity ‘naturally’ risks children being seriously unwell.
  • There is no link between the MMR vaccine and autism. (National Autism Society state ‘There is no link between autism and vaccines.’)
  • 90.8% of children in the East of England received their first MMR vaccine by the age of 24 months – according to national statistics from October-December 2023:

cover-data-tables-quarter-3-2023-to-2024.ods (