Parents have been urged to ensure their children receive routine vaccinations during the latest lockdown amid concerns many are missing out because of the restrictions.
Public Health England reminded parents that appointments are available despite the second Covid-19 lockdown which is due to end on December 2, but may be extended.
About a month after the start of the first lockdown on March 23, the number of children given the MMR and hexavalent vaccine fell. The hexavalent vaccine protects against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, Haemophilus influenzae type b and hepatitis B.
PHE said the fall in numbers may have been because government messages about the importance of staying at home “overwhelmed the message that the immunisation programme was operating as usual".
Figures drawn from 38 per cent of GP practices reveal that since April, 3.8 per cent and 2.8 per cent fewer hexavalent and MMR vaccines respectively have been administered compared with the same period last year.
“Uptake is still behind on previous years and health experts are concerned these may fall again, leaving thousands of children vulnerable to serious illness,” PHE said.
“While it is vital to stay at home to prevent the spread of Covid-19, parents are urged to ensure children attend routine vaccination appointments and catch up on any vaccinations they have missed, provided parents and children are not displaying symptoms of Covid-19 or self-isolating.”
PHE also said it was important that two-to-three year-olds are given their flu nasal spray.