Adolescent uptake of vaccines still below pre-pandemic levels as government and NHS urge people not to miss out

Some young people are at risk of life-threatening diseases as data from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) shows vaccine uptake in adolescents has dropped.

The vaccines in question include the last dose for tetanus, diphtheria and polio (Td/IPV) and the MenACWY vaccine that protects young people from four types of meningococcal disease.

The uptake of the two vaccines was 69% for teenagers in year 9 during the 2021-22 academic year – approximately 7% lower than the previous year and well below the last pre-pandemic academic year, which saw uptake of 87.6% for Td/IPV and 88% for MenACWY.

The UKHSA notes that statistics also show that the NHS has already taken steps to rectify the situation with the uptake increasing to around 80% for children in year 10.

Consultant Epidemiologist at UKHSA, Dr Vanessa Saliba, said that, even though many children have already been caught up on their vaccines, “more needs to be done” to ensure as many people are protected as possible.

The UKHSA is therefore urging parents and guardians to make sure eligible children get their vaccines before leaving school.

Dr Saliba said: “These vaccines offer the best protection as young people start their journey into adulthood and mixing more widely – whether going to college, starting work, travelling or going to summer festivals.”

NHS England’s National Director for Vaccination and Screening, Steve Russell, added: “The 3-in-1 teenage booster and the MenACWY vaccination are extremely well-researched and proven to provide protection against a range of diseases that can cause serious illness.

“NHS School Aged Immunisation Services offer these vaccinations in secondary schools, as well as the HPV vaccination that protects against a range of cancers and we strongly urge those eligible and their family members and guardians to ensure they are up to date, and if not to come forward for their vaccines as soon as possible – it’s the best way to keep you protected.”

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NHE May/June 2024

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