Routine child vaccinations decline in England

Coverage of nine of the 12 routine vaccinations given to infants and young children declined in England in 2017–18 compared with the previous year, according to a new report from NHS Digital. Coverage increased for just one vaccination and remained stable for two.

Coverage is defined as the number of children immunised as a proportion of the eligible population. Measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) coverage measured in children reaching their second birthday fell for the fourth year running, from 92.7% in 2013–14 to 91.6% in 2016–17 and then further to 91.2% in the latest report (for 2017–18). MMR coverage at the age of five years also fell slightly, from 95% in 2016–17 to 94.9% in 2017–18, bringing the level back to below the WHO target of 95%.

Furthermore, coverage of the five-in-one vaccine (for diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio and Haemophilus influenzae type b [DTaP/IPV/Hib]) at 12 months fell for the fifth successive year, from 94.7% in 2012–13 to 93.1% in 2017–18. However, coverage at 24 months has remained above the 95% target since 2009–10 (unchanged at 95.1% for the second year running). The only vaccine that showed an increase in coverage over the past year was the rotavirus vaccine (introduced into the childhood immunisation schedule in 2013), from 89.6% in 2016–17 to 90.1% in 2017–18 at the age of 12 months.

This year’s report is accompanied by an interactive dashboard, developed in conjunction with Public Health England, which provides maps to allow comparison of coverage of each vaccination at specific ages between local authorities.


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