MMR uptake remains below pre-Wakefield levels

MMR uptake levels in England are still below those seen before Andrew Wakefield claimed there was a link between the vaccine and an increased risk of autism.

MMR vaccines are given to babies and young children as part of a childhood vaccination schedule (Photograph: SPL)
MMR vaccines are given to babies and young children as part of a childhood vaccination schedule (Photograph: SPL)

Coverage of MMR vaccine for children reaching their second birthday has risen from a low of 79.9% in 2003/4, data from the Information Centre show. It stood at 88.2% in 2009/10 and to 89.1% in 2010/11, according to figures reported by PCTs.

But this level of coverage is still lower than that seen in the mid 1990s, when over 90% of children received the MMR vaccine. It is also below the World Health Organization target of 95% coverage.

Andrew Wakefield's research findings, published in The Lancet in 1998, led to a drop in MMR vaccination rates and a rise in measles cases as well as confrontations between GPs and the parents of babies due for their MMR jabs.

The Information Centre figures show that, at the age of five, 91.9% of children had received their first dose of MMR, but only 84.2% had completed the recommended schedule of two doses by this age.

Uptake has also increased for Diphtheria, Tetanus, Polio, Pertussis and Haemophilus influenzae type b (DTaP/IPV/Hib) vaccination. In 2010/11, 94.2% of children reaching their first birthday had completed primary immunisation courses against DTaP/IPV/Hib. This compares with 93.6% in 2009/10.

Overall, vaccination coverage in England remains below that in other UK countries.

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