Parents and carers in north east London are being urged to ensure their children are fully protected against measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) and polio to guard against “tragic consequences”.
As part of an NHS vaccine catch-up campaign, children aged one to 11 who are behind schedule can get vital jabs at primary schools, community venues and GP surgeries in Barking and Dagenham, City of London, Hackney, Havering, Newham, Redbridge, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest.
Parents and carers of school-aged children who may have missed a vaccine will be contacted by the NHS through their School Age Immunisation Service provider. Those who are not fully up to date with their vaccinations will be able to speak to a registered healthcare professional who will explain the consent process, answer any questions and arrange an appointment.
Parents and carers of children aged one to four will be contacted by their GP. But anyone who is unsure if their child is up to date can check their child’s personal child health record, known as the Redbook, or contact their GP to find out and arrange a jab.
Latest data shows that 76.4% and 76.6% of children have had all their MMR and polio jabs respectively by the age of five in north east London. These figures are in line with the London average but well below the 95% target set by the World Health Organisation (WHO), which is necessary to achieve and maintain elimination of the diseases.
This is particularly important as the WHO has confirmed the UK has a “circulating” form of polio and latest UKHSA data shows measles cases on the rise in London.
On rare occasions, polio can cause serious illness such as paralysis in people who are not fully immunised. With no cure, vaccination is the only protection. Traces of the polio virus were found in sewage samples in east London last year, so it is particularly important for those who are not fully vaccinated to catch up.
London has also seen a rise in measles cases this year, with 33 confirmed cases reported between 1 January and 20 April 2023.
Dr Muhammad Naqvi, a Newham GP and Clinical Lead for immunisations in north east London, said:
“Polio and measles can have tragic consequences if you are not vaccinated and can lead to serious long-term health problems.
“The good news is that both infections are easily preventable and vaccinations are available for children locally at schools, community venues and at GP surgeries.
“Wherever you chose to have your child vaccinated, healthcare professionals will be able to explain the process and answer any questions or concerns you might have.”