Vaccination

Health written question – answered on 8th September 2014.

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Photo of Crispin Blunt Crispin Blunt Conservative, Reigate

To ask the Secretary of State for Health

(1) what the outcomes were of each routine immunisation programme over the last 10 years; what steps he is taking to encourage greater levels of coverage over the next 10 years; and if he will make a statement;

(2) on what occasions over the last 10 years steps have needed to be taken to increase levels of coverage of vaccinations because coverage has fallen to significantly low levels; what outbreaks of vaccine-preventable disease there have been in the UK in the last 10 years; what his definition of an outbreak is for this purpose; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Jane Ellison Jane Ellison The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health

The Department and NHS England, advised by Public Health England, have produced a series of service specifications for the commissioning of immunisation services. These generally state that local services must ensure that they maintain and improve immunisation uptake with the aspiration of 100% of relevant individuals being offered immunisation.

The local Directors’ of Public Health have responsibility for providing appropriate challenge to local immunisation arrangements and advocacy with key stakeholders to ensure access to vaccinations improved uptake by eligible populations.

Coverage for most routine universal childhood immunisation programmes has improved over the last decade and is now approaching or above 95% in most English regions and continues to increase at a national level. Vaccine uptake in the UK is among the highest in the world. Annual immunisation coverage statistics are published by the Health and Social Care Information Centre and a copy of the most recent report for 2012-13 has been placed in the Library.

Public Health England monitors vaccine coverage levels and works jointly with the NHS to encourage increased vaccination uptake, including through promoting vaccination to parents and carers through advertising and media campaigns.

Public Health England defines outbreaks according to the World Health Organisation’s definition, which is that:

‘A disease outbreak is the occurrence of cases of disease in excess of what would normally be expected in a defined community, geographical area or season’.

Cases of vaccine preventable disease are at historically low levels and in the last 10 years, national outbreaks have only been observed for three vaccine preventable diseases—mumps, pertussis and measles.

During the early years of the century, for example, vaccine coverage of measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) fell following the unfounded concerns about vaccine safety. In 2008, the Chief Medical Officer announced a national catch-up campaign to offer MMR to any individuals under 18 years of age to ensure they were fully protected. In April 2013, a national MMR catch up campaign in those aged 10 to 16 years was launched in England.

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