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Babies at risk as jab uptake falls

January 9, 2020 12:36 PM
By Sean Davies in Southend Echo

Babies in Southend could be at risk of catching potentially deadly illnesses as uptake rates for important jabs fall below safe levels, new figures have revealed.

Young children should get the so-called six-in-one jab, which protects against six serious infections including polio, whooping cough and diphtheria, in the first few months of their lives.

But new Public Health England data shows that just 92 per cent of those in Southend who had their first birthday in the six months to September were vaccinated.

It means 83 children missed out, with the area falling short of the 95 per cent rate recommended by the World Health Organisation to prevent outbreaks.

Southend Council has spoken out in a bid to encourage parents to take up the opportunity to vaccinate their children at the earliest possible stage.

Trevor Harp, cabinet member for health and adult social care, said: "Whilst a high number of babies are vaccinated in Southend-on-Sea, an even higher level of vaccination coverage matters as it can protect and prevent dangerous and potentially fatal diseases from spreading within local communities.

"The best way to protect and prevent is to be vaccinated and we strongly urge all parents to get their babies vaccinated as soon as possible.

"We would also like to use this opportunity to urge all local people to check their vaccination history, particularly in light of the recent measles outbreak which demonstrated the importance of herd immunity."

Babies should have three rounds of the six-in-one vaccination at eight, 12 and 16 weeks of age.

It helps them develop a strong immunity to diphtheria, hepatitis B, haemophilus influenza type b, polio, tetanus and whopping cough - all described by the NHS as "serious childhood diseases".

Dr Doug Brown, the British Society for Immunology chief executive, added: "Low levels of vaccination coverage matter as it means these diseases have the potential to spread within our communities, infecting unvaccinated people, with young babies and people with compromised immune systems particularly at risk."

He added: "If you are worried your child hasn't received all the doses of the six-in-one vaccine, do make an appointment at your GP surgery. It's much better to get your child vaccinated than risk them catching one of these nasty diseases."

Link to Echo article