Health leaders back major new childhood immunisation and vaccination campaign

Health leaders in Humber and North Yorkshire are backing a major new campaign to remind parents and carers of the risk of their children missing out on protection against serious diseases – with an urgent call to action to catch up on missed vaccinations.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) campaign has released a powerful video advert. It is told from the perspective of children and in their voices.

“Our generation’s risk of illnesses like measles and whooping cough is rising” they tell their parents and carers looking straight into camera – “If we’re not vaccinated, we’re not protected.”

Uptake levels of childhood vaccines offered through the routine NHS vaccination programme in England have been falling over the past decade across all vaccines.

This includes whooping cough, measles, mumps and rubella, polio, meningitis and diphtheria – with England no longer having the levels of population immunity recommended by the World Health Organization that is needed to prevent outbreaks.

Crucially, lower vaccine uptake within communities is directly linked to wider health inequalities.

Peter Roderick, Director of Public Health at City of York Council, said: “We are particularly appealing to parents to check their children’s vaccination status and book appointments if their children have missed any immunisations. The ongoing measles outbreak we are seeing is a reminder of the very present threat.”

Louise Wallace, Director of Public Health at North Yorkshire Council, added: “While the majority of York and North Yorkshire is protected, there are still high numbers of children in some areas that continue to be unprotected from preventable diseases. It is not just their own health that can suffer, but other unvaccinated people around them such as school friends, family and those in their community could also experience serious infections.”

Jack Lewis, consultant in public health with the Humber and North Yorkshire Health and Care Partnership, said: “While we would strongly urge parents to make arrangements for their child to get up-to-date with their vaccinations, it’s worth emphasising the MMR vaccine isn’t just for children. It is important at any age, particularly if you have a weakened immune system or long-term health condition.

“So if you or your child are not up-to-date with your vaccinations, please make an appointment with your GP practice to catch up.”

The UKHSA is co-ordinating its national marketing campaign with an NHS operational MMR catch up campaign. In addition to the TV advert, the campaign will be seen across a range of channels and formats including radio advertising, digital display, online and on social media.

The World Health Organization recently repeated its warning on the growing measles threat due to sub-optimal vaccination rates well below the 95 per cent target, highlighting that more than half the world faces high measles risk. This includes Europe, where it warns of the high probability of importation from areas experiencing high circulation and the fact that the seasonal peak of the virus could be seen in the coming months.