Hundreds of Gloucestershire babies at risk after missing vaccinations

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

The British Society for Immunology has urged the new government to deliver on its promise to develop the UK’s first vaccine strategy to protect communities against “nasty diseases”.

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 91.6 per cent of those in Gloucestershire who had their first birthday in the six months up to September 2018 were vaccinated.

It means 280 children missed out, with the area falling short of the 95 per cent rate recommended by the World Health Organisation to prevent outbreaks.

The uptake rate for the South West over the period was 93.9 per cent – the second-highest of any region in the country. But the rate in Gloucestershire was below the national average of 92.1 per cent.

Wiltshire had a much higher rate of 96.7 per cent while the rate was 94.6 per cent in South Gloucestershire.

“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,” said Dr Doug Brown, chief executive of The British Society for Immunology.

“We urge the new government to deliver on its promise to develop the UK’s first vaccine strategy and to fully fund immunisation services to ensure our communities are protected against these preventable diseases.”

But he also urged parents to make sure their children get the jabs.

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.”

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”.

Health minister Nicola Blackwood said: “Every child must be vaccinated against dangerous and potentially fatal diseases. Vaccine uptake is very high for most childhood vaccines, but we are determined to drive rates up even further.

“Our new vaccination strategy will consider a range of approaches to improve uptake.”

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