Parents are being urged to ensure their children are fully vaccinated against measles, mumps and rubella as the NHS in London launches a new drive to increase uptake of the vaccine which provides protection against these highly infectious diseases.
The NHS provides the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine to children as part of their routine immunisation schedule.
A single dose of the injection is given when a child is 1 year old, with a second dose administered when they reach 3 years and 4 months, before they start nursery or school. Two doses of the vaccine are needed to ensure full protection.
Getting vaccinated against measles, mumps and rubella is vitally important as these conditions can lead to other serious problems including meningitis, hearing loss and problems during pregnancy. The new NHS London campaign comes amid data showing uptake of the childhood vaccination across the capital remains below the 95% target recommended by the World Health Organisation.
Data published on Tuesday 28 June 2022 by the UK Health Security Agency showed that up to March 2022 roughly 80.7% of children in London have had a first dose of the MMR vaccine by the time they reached 2 years old. While only 74.8% had their second jab by the age of 5.
Parents and guardians are being reminded that during the pandemic, the NHS has continued to provide routine childhood immunisations, alongside the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccination programme. If your child has missed their MMR vaccine, it’s not too late to catch up.
Dr Chris Streather, Medical Director for the NHS in London, said:
“It’s vital that parents ensure their children are fully protected against measles, mumps and rubella.
“The MMR vaccine is safe, quick and free as part of the NHS routine immunisation schedule – and it’s never too late to get both doses to give your child protection.
“We are urging parents to check their child’s Red Book or speak to their GP practice to ensure all immunisations are up-to-date.”
Dr Mohan Sekeram, a GP based in south west London, said:
“The success of the NHS COVID-19 vaccination programme has demonstrated that vaccination is an incredibly effective public health intervention, and this should encourage parents to ensure their child is up to date with all routine vaccinations.
“The MMR vaccine is free on the NHS and gives long lasting protection against conditions which can cause serious illness.
“We know that many children have missed some of their vaccine appointments over the past couple of years. But the good news is it’s never too late for them to get both doses of the MMR jab.
“It will not only provide protection for your own child but also ensure they don’t risk spreading these diseases to unvaccinated people at their nursery, school or in the wider community so I would echo the call for parents to ensure their child is given both doses of the vaccine at the right time.”
People who have not been vaccinated with two doses of MMR vaccine are more likely to catch these diseases.
Two doses of the MMR vaccine give 99% protection against measles and rubella and about 88% protection against mumps.
The MMR vaccine has been safely protecting children for many years in many countries worldwide. In the UK, millions of doses have been given since it was introduced in 1988.
Before vaccines can be used, they are thoroughly tested for safety and approved by the UK’s independent regulator.
Parent and guardians can find out more about the MMR vaccine on the NHS website.