College reminds public that vaccines only work if people have them in response to new data which shows a fall in demand for childhood vaccines

Publication date: 14 September 2020

Professor Martin Marshall, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: "The latest data from Public Health England shows that uptake rates for childhood vaccinations fell at the start of lockdown but have since risen to around pre-pandemic rates, which is encouraging. However, as the world awaits a COVID vaccine to help us tackle the virus, it’s concerning that demand for readily available childhood vaccines is still lower than it was last year. We can’t stress enough how important it is that children are up-to-date with their vaccination schedules.

"General practice has remained open throughout the pandemic, and GPs and our teams are working hard to ensure children are able to access their childhood vaccines. For example, for vaccinations previously offered at schools, such as the human papillomavirus (HPV), provisions were made during lockdown to ensure children could arrange be vaccinated at local GP practices. 

"In 2017 measles was declared, by the World Health Organisation, to have been eradicated in the UK. However, a combination of now-discredited medical research in the nineties, and dangerous anti-vaccination propaganda that has perpetuated ever since, contributed to, just one year later, our measles-free status was withdrawn - ultimately vaccines only work if people have them.

"In the UK we’ve made good advances in our goal to minimise the risk of life-threatening infectious diseases using the NHS’ childhood vaccination programme. As we look for a viable COVID vaccination, we mustn’t overlook the vaccines that we already have. It would be a tragedy if we were able to find a vaccine for COVID but are left with outbreaks of other deadly diseases for which vaccines already exist because, for whatever reason, people didn’t come forward for their jabs."

Further Information

RCGP Press office: 020 3188 7633/7574/7575

Out of hours: 0203 188 7659

Notes to editor

The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of more than 52,000 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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