The NHS in London is urging parents to take young children to be immunised, to prevent outbreaks of serious diseases and reduce pressure on the health service. Data from GP practices in the capital have revealed a 25% drop in the number of children receiving the vital immunisations compared to the same time last year.
Vaccination schedules are carefully timed in the early years to maximise protection and it is vital that they are followed as closely as possible. GP practices across London are stepping up services to ensure that parents can access vaccinations in new ways that can protect both them and their children. These innovations include ‘drive-through’ vaccinations to reduce face-to-face time. This includes carrying out parts of the appointments over the phone and increasing gaps between appointments to make sure parents and children don’t come into contact with other patients.
Vaccinations at this age protect against a range of serious diseases including meningococcal group B bacteria, which is a common cause of meningitis in young children in the UK. Meningitis is a highly contagious, extremely serious infection that can lead to death or permanent disability. The vaccine is recommended for babies aged 8 weeks, followed by a second dose at 16 weeks and a booster at 1 year. Vaccinations also protect against measles, mumps and rubella, which have a ‘reproduction number’ of 12 – 18 (the number of new people expected to be infected by one carrier) in a population with no immunity.