The proportion of children receiving the first dose of the MMR vaccine by their fifth birthday hit the coverage target for the first time ever in the last year.
A report has shown that WHO targets for vaccine coverage in children were met for the first time in England in 2016/2017.
The report, published by NHS Digital, has shown that 95% of children received the first dose of the MMR vaccine by the time they were five years old in 2016/2017. Figures show that the proportion of children receiving the first dose has been on the rise year on year since 2006/2007.
While the proportion of children receiving the first dose of the vaccine was up by 0.2% in 2016/2017 compared with the previous year, the proportion of children receiving the second dose was down for the third year in a row, at just 91.6%
The report also showed a decrease in the number of children receiving the 5-in-1 DTaP/IPV/Hib vaccine, with 93.4% of children receiving it before their first birthday, representing a decrease in coverage of 0.8%.
The geographical distribution of areas meeting vaccine targets varied, with 68 out of 149 local authorities meeting targets for DTaP/IPV/Hib and 101 of 149 meeting targets for the first dose of MMR.
Professor Peter Openshawe, president of the British Society of the Immunology, commented on the report: ‘The UK is a world leader in vaccine research and we need to ensure that this excellence is reflected in the provision of vaccines to our children to prevent disease. This not only protects the children themselves, but also people in our communities who are vulnerable because of health problems.
‘The statistics indicate there is also significant regional variation in coverage levels, which has a substantial impact on our ability to stop the spread of these diseases within individual communities. It is crucial that the Government, NHS and local authorities work together to learn lessons from those areas that are performing well to ensure that vaccination rates increase and prevent the spread these harmful but preventable diseases.’