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expert reaction to Boris Johnson on measles and vaccine uptake

Reaction to the Prime Minister’s statement on measles and vaccine uptake. 


Dr David Elliman, Consultant in Community Child Health, Great Ormond Street Hospital, said:

“Most of what the PM says is already part of official recommendations – NICE and PHE.  What will make a difference will be whether there are the resources to deliver the recommendations.  This is not just money, but human resources.  There are not enough GPs, Practice Nurses, School Nurses and health visitors.  We also have a sadly fragmented NHS.”


Prof Helen Bedford, Professor of Child Public Health, Institute of Child Health, UCL, said:

“It is very good that the government is taking the issue of protecting our children from infectious diseases so seriously.  The strategies they suggest echo those of Public Health England’s earlier this year.  What is needed to show real commitment though, are resources.  With General Practices closing and the numbers of health visitors fallen by a quarter in four years, this is a system under pressure.  We need to put resources into increasing numbers of practice nurses, the skilled workforce who day in and day out, vaccinate children and adults to protect them against serious diseases.”


Prof Jonathan Ball, Professor of Molecular Virology, University of Nottingham, said:

“The proposed approaches seem eminently appropriate and sensible; I just hope that they are deliverable in a somewhat stretched NHS.”


Dr Doug Brown, Chief Executive, British Society for Immunology, said:

“The British Society for Immunology welcomes today’s announcement by the Prime Minister to step up efforts to increase the UK’s childhood vaccination rate.  Vaccination is one of the safest and most effective methods we have to save lives and stop the spread of disease.

“The UK losing its measles-free status does not come as a surprise to those of us who have followed the worrying increase in measles cases over the past couple of years.  Measles is highly contagious disease that can lead to serious consequences for those infected, but it is preventable with the use of the MMR vaccine.  In order to protect our communities against measles, it’s imperative that we reach the 95% vaccination target set out by the World Health Organization.  Currently, in England, only 87.2% of children aged five have received the required two doses of MMR vaccine.  We must do better and today’s announcement by Number 10 to promote ‘catch-up’ vaccinations, strengthen the role of local immunisation coordinators and improve accurate, evidence-based information provision is certainly an important step in the right direction.  However, in order for this strategy to be successful, it is crucial that it is adequately funded, particularly with regards to targeting areas with low uptake and to tailoring specific local interventions to under-vaccinated communities.

“Improving vaccine uptake is a complex issue and it requires many stakeholders, including the Government, NHS, local authorities and local communities, to work together to prioritise immunisation services and learn lessons from regions that are performing well.  The British Society for Immunology looks forward to playing our part to increase immunisation rates and ensure the future health of our nation’s children.”


Declared interests

Prof Helen Bedford: “No conflicts of interest.”

Prof Jonathan Ball: “No CoIs.”

None others received.

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