The Royal College of Nursing is today urging people not to forget routine childhood vaccinations during the Covid-19 crisis.
The fresh warning comes as research, published in the British Medical Journal last month, shows the number of MMR vaccines were 19.8% lower in the three weeks after the introduction of social distancing measures compared to the same period last year.
RCN professional lead for public health Helen Donovan said although it is understandable parents may have concerns about taking their children to the surgery during the pandemic, the vaccination programme remains ‘vital’ for public health.
The College published guidance in April on maintaining the immunisation programme during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Its recommendations included introducing telephone consultations with parents, discussing consent and post-immunisation advice, and reassuring parents and carers around additional safety precautions during Covid-19.
Ms Donovan continued: ‘We know from experience that falls in immunisation rates can lead to increases in death from the diseases the vaccines are designed to prevent. This is why it is so important the routine vaccination programme continues.’
In April, NHS England encouraged GP practices to come up with ‘creative’ solutions to keep up with ‘vital’ immunisations during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Health visitors have also urged worried parents not to skip vaccinations, raising concerns that they may be avoiding immunisation appointments because of fears of contracting the virus.
Nursing in Practice’s publisher Cogora revealed in its State of Primary Care report, released earlier this year, that three-quarters of practice and community nurses believe vaccination should be compulsory.