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MMR vaccine: call for nurse-led catch-up drive as uptake lowest in decade

RCN also wants public education to tackle vaccine hesitancy among parents as more than one in ten children under five not fully protected from measles

RCN also wants public education to tackle vaccine hesitancy among parents as more than one in ten children under five not fully protected from measles

Calls have been made for a nurse-led catch-up measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) immunisation programme after new figures revealed uptake of the jab is at its lowest in a decade.

The RCN General Practice Nursing Forum said vaccine hesitancy and misinformation had affected uptake of the jab, calling for a nurse-led programme to help boost the number of children immunised against MMR.

RCN also wants public education to tackle vaccine hesitancy among parents as more than one in ten children under five not fully protected from measles

Picture: Alamy

Calls have been made for a nurse-led catch-up measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) immunisation programme after new figures revealed uptake of the jab is at its lowest in a decade.

The RCN General Practice Nursing Forum said vaccine hesitancy and misinformation had affected uptake of the jab, calling for a nurse-led programme to help boost the number of children immunised against MMR.

Since the start of the pandemic in March 2020 there has been a significant drop in MMR vaccine uptake, according to the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA).

Coverage of the first dose of the jab among two year olds has dropped below 90%. Coverage of the second dose among five year olds is 85.5%, well below the World Health Organization’s 95% target to achieve and sustain the elimination of measles.

As a result of the drop in vaccination coverage, more than one in ten children under the age of five are not fully protected from measles and are at risk of catching it.

There have been barriers to parents booking MMR jabs for their child, says RCN

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, RCN professional lead for public health Helen Donovan said the pandemic had meant many parents weren’t able to book appointments for their child’s vaccines.

‘A lot of parents, certainly in the early months of the pandemic, were worried about going to their GP or they had problems getting appointments,’ she said.

‘It is very easy to think that it is just a childhood disease and not remember some of the really bad consequences as a result of this infection.’

How to encourage MMR vaccine uptake

School and Public Health Nurses Association chief executive Sharon White shares her top tips for nurses when working with vaccine-hesitant parents:

  • Acknowledge and value parents’ opinions and worries and respond accordingly with research and evidenced-based facts in a simple and understandable form
  • Offer alternatives, for example if the parent has a good trusting relationship with their GP then suggest the vaccine be administered there, or offer home visits from other immunisers if a public venue is an issue
  • Use campaign materials to share with parents, schools, children, partners and stakeholders
  • Use each contact and opportunity to promote and facilitate all childhood immunisations
  • Use motivational interviewing and brief intervention skills to encourage uptake


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