Health Policy

25.10.19

RSPH responds to NAO investigation outlining decline in pre-school vaccinations

The National Audit Office (NAO) has published an investigative report on the decline of pre-school vaccinations. (Oct 24)

The report comes after public concern was raised regarding NHS England not delivering the 95% performance standard, set by the Department of Health and Social Care’s (DHSC), for the uptake of nearly all pre-school vaccinations in England since 2012.

The report identifies that in order to reverse the decline in uptake of pre-school vaccinations, there needs to be better access to appointments, improved data recording and more positive public campaigns.

According to NHS England and Public Health England, potential factors responsible for the decline include inconsistent communication with parents regarding children’s vaccination appointments, lack of timely access to healthcare professionals, inadequate engagement with minority groups including traveller communities, migrants and some religious groups and incomplete data on vaccination uptake.

NAO has cited the Royal Society for Public Health’s (RSPH)  Moving the Needle report in their investigation, placing some responsibility on the timing and availability of appointments for the decline in child vaccinations. It also found that 41% of parents are exposed to negative messages about vaccines on social media.

Today the RSPH is calling for government to release its new Vaccine Strategy and do more to reassure parents of the importance, safety and effectiveness of vaccines. Including using the use of positive campaigns.

Shirley Cramer CBE, Chief Executive of RSPH, said:

“With the loss of the UK’s measles-free status, this report from the Government’s chief auditor couldn’t be more timely. Recommendations around improving access, as well as making the case for vaccines through campaigns, echo longstanding calls to action from RSPH.

“Our research has found that while parents found it difficult to access appointments, many were at the same time being exposed to negative messages about vaccines on social media. These are signs of the current system not working. Indeed, this year the WHO named vaccine hesitancy among its top ten threats to global health.

"Those working on the ground delivering vaccinations need the training, organisation and support to be responsive to the needs and concerns of parents. It’s therefore important that a broad range of health professionals are trained so they can promote and even deliver vaccinations at all available opportunities.

“The key issues around delivery and access highlighted in this report have been known for some time, so we’re pleased that a new Vaccine Strategy is now being produced. We urge the Government to move ahead with publishing and implementing this strategy as soon as possible, before we see further falls in coverage." 

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