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Childhood immunisation: lack of call and recall mechanism hampers uptake – RCN

Public health nurses are coping with fragmented systems that fail to maximise vaccine uptake
hands of a healthcare professional in foreground preparing to administer MMR vaccine to baby out of focus in the background

Public health nurses are coping with fragmented systems that fail to maximise vaccine uptake

Public health nurses having to work in a fragmented childhood immunisation system in England that fails to maximise vaccine uptake, the RCN says.

Official figures show NHS England missed the 95% uptake required for herd immunity for six out of seven pre-school jabs in 2018/19.Instead, just 86.4% of children received the second dose of their measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) jab by age five.

System of calling and recalling is inconsistent

A National Audit Office study said NHS England had not set out a consistent system for calling or recalling children to have vaccination since the abolition of primary care trusts in 2013.

RCN public health lead Helen Donovan

Public health nurses are coping with fragmented systems that fail to maximise vaccine uptake


Picture: Alamy

Public health nurses having to work in a fragmented childhood immunisation system in England that fails to maximise vaccine uptake, the RCN says. 

Official figures show NHS England missed the 95% uptake required for herd immunity for six out of seven pre-school jabs in 2018/19.Instead, just 86.4% of children received the second dose of their measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) jab by age five.

System of calling and recalling is inconsistent

A National Audit Office study said NHS England had not set out a consistent system for calling or recalling children to have vaccination since the abolition of primary care trusts in 2013.

RCN public health lead Helen Donovan said the report’s findings make familiar reading for nurses in the field.

‘They are often the healthcare professionals grappling with a fragmented public health system, which doesn't support everyone working together to ensure children receive their vaccinations,’ she said.

Lack of nurses makes immunisation programmes more difficult

Ms Donovan said a lack of nurses was hampering efforts too.

‘Instead of focusing on kneejerk reactions to this crisis like mandatory vaccinations… the health secretary should make clear how he will reverse the record nurse vacancies that are making the job of nurses working in vaccination even more difficult,’ she said.

NHS England said it plans to boost MMR funding to GPs, and work to create networks of surgeries that can pool resources to expand the evening and weekend appointments they offer.

NHS England also said it would introduce a consistent way of reminding people to attend vaccinations, although the details have not yet been agreed with GPs.


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