The Health and Social Care Committee has expressed disappointment over the government’s response to its recommendations for tackling declining vaccination rates among children.
In its response, the government said it was working closely with ‘system partners including NHS England, UKHSA, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency and the devolved governments’ to explore ways that ‘medical and nursing students, and retired staff can continue to be utilised in a way that best support their needs as well as any future vaccination programme’.
The committee acknowledged the government’s ‘broad narrative about a strategy that is in development’ but expressed disappointment that the response failed to address ‘specific recommendations made based on evidence’.
The original report noted that England did not meet the 95% target for any routine childhood immunisations in 2021/22.
This prompted a call for a more flexible delivery model to provide routine vaccinations to overcome practical challenges over times or locations, alongside an expanded workforce.
According to the MPs on the committee, an integrated vaccination and immunisation strategy is ‘vital’ to ensure that England can meet the childhood vaccination targets.
In its response, the government said a strategy would be published ‘later in 2023’.
Steve Brine MP, chair of the Health and Social Care Committee, said: ‘We are extremely disappointed that the government has failed to respond directly to our calls for urgent action to tackle declining rates in childhood immunisations.
‘Without a more flexible approach to how they are delivered, the great success story of vaccination will flounder, as will the UK’s position as a global leader.’
Mr Brine also noted that, in July 2023, the UK Health Security Agency warned that London risked a measles outbreak if MMR rates remained low.
‘Unfortunately, we still await an integrated vaccination and immunisation strategy from the government, promised more than a year ago,’ he said.
‘Its publication remains vital if targets for routine vaccinations among children are to be met.’