College urges parents not to shun childhood vaccinations during COVID-19 for fear of 'burdening' the NHS

Publication date: 27 April 2020

College Chair Professor Martin Marshall has a letter in today's Guardian encouraging parents to take up the routine vaccination programme for their children while the pandemic is ongoing

You can read it in full here

A vaccine is likely to make a major contribution to getting us out of the COVID-19 crisis. We know this because vaccines have provided the answer to many other infective crises in the past.

Vaccinations are some of the most important health interventions people can have.

The NHS childhood vaccination programme protects children for life from potentially deadly diseases, such as measles, polio and tuberculosis.

In the most successful cases, vaccines can eradicate diseases. The UK was declared measles-free in 2017, but due to a combination of now-discredited medical research in the 1990s and dangerous anti-vaccination propaganda that has perpetuated ever since, inoculation rates have fallen and there has been an increase in recorded cases and deaths. In 2018, our measles-free status was withdrawn.

Vaccines only work if people have them. Therefore it is essential that parents continue to get their children vaccinated during the COVID-19 pandemic. A further slump in vaccination uptake risks outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases such as whooping cough, measles, mumps and rubella in the future.

General practice is 'open for business' and it is a priority for GP teams to offer vaccinations. We encourage parents to contact their GP practice if their child has one due. They will not be adding to the current burden on the NHS  - they are safeguarding it for the future.

A vaccine will hopefully conquer COVID-19 and ultimately save lives. It would be tragic if a consequence of this pandemic is that we see outbreaks of other deadly diseases for which vaccines already exist.

Professor Martin Marshall

Further Information

RCGP Press office: 020 3188 7494/7633/7574/7575
Out of hours: 0203 188 7659

Notes to editor

The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of more than 53,000 family doctors working to improve care for patients. We work to encourage and maintain the highest standards of general medical practice and act as the voice of GPs on education, training, research and clinical standards.

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