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Children with learning disabilities may miss important vaccinations

For almost all vaccinations, at all ages, vaccination rates are lower for children with learning disabilities, data analysis shows

For almost all vaccinations, at all ages, vaccination rates are lower for children with learning disabilities, data analysis of the Millennium Cohort Study shows

Picture shows an adult filling a syringe while a child watches. For almost all vaccinations, at all ages, vaccination rates are lower for children with learning disabilities, a study shows.
Picture: Alamy

Child health policy in the UK includes vaccination from eight weeks to 13 years for diseases including diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, measles, mumps, rubella and meningitis.

Vaccination programmes protect children from vaccine-preventable diseases, as well as reducing the likelihood of disease outbreaks in communities.

The Millennium Cohort Study follows more than 18,000 children born between 2000 and 2003, of whom 671 have been identified as having a learning disability.

Across successive waves of data collection, parental carers have answered questions about vaccinations that reveal rates of uptake and reasons for non-uptake. The findings are relevant to learning disability nurses working in paediatric or preschool child health settings, who may be well placed to promote greater uptake of vaccination.

The authors found that for almost all vaccinations, at all ages, vaccination rates were lower for children with learning disabilities than for children who did not have learning disabilities. Complete vaccination rates were significantly lower at nine months and three years, although not by the age of five.

When adjusted for extraneous variables, including socioeconomic position, incomplete vaccination remained elevated for children with learning disabilities at nine months and three years.


Reference

Emerson E, Robertson J, Baines S et al (2019) Vaccine coverage among children with and without intellectual disabilities in the UK: cross sectional study. BMC Public Health. 19, 748


Dave Atkinson is an independent consultant nurseDave Atkinson is an independent consultant nurse

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