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October 2020

Drop in childhood immunisations during lockdown

MMR vaccination counts for children aged 12 to 18 months dropped by almost 20% in the first weeks of lockdown, compared with the same period in 2019.

Administration of the first dose of hexavalent vaccines for infants younger than 6 months also declined, but gradually and appear not to have been as affected by physical distancing as MMR.

However, vaccination counts then started to increase again from mid-April, even though distancing measures were still in place.

Current figures suggest that uptake is returning to ‘normal’ – but are still 2.4% and 3.4% lower than in 2019, for MMR and hexavalent vaccine, respectively.

Public Health England says: ‘As physical distancing measures relax and the risk of other infectious diseases circulating increases, it is of utmost important that GPs maintain offering routine immunisations, check and recall those who have not received a vaccine, and where required, recovery plans should be set in place to account for the initial drop in vaccination counts observed at the beginning of lockdown.’

Practice Nurse 2020;50(8):6