Outbreaks of childhood diseases must not become a devastating legacy of Covid, says College

The College appears in today’s Guardian, responding to a worrying fall in take-up of child vaccines during the pandemic and highlighting the hard work that GPs have been doing to immunise children and young people, in addition to delivering two thirds of all Covid vaccines.

Here is our full statement:

Professor Martin Marshall, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: “These figures are extremely concerning, and we would urge parents of all eligible age children not to delay in making sure their MMR and HPV vaccinations are up-to-date.

“General practice has been open throughout the pandemic, and GPs and our teams have worked incredibly hard to continue the childhood vaccination programmes, as well as delivering two thirds of all Covid vaccines. The fact that childhood vaccinations were still designated a clinical priority even at the height of the pandemic when many other routine services were stopped for infection control purposes, shows how vital childhood vaccinations are.

“We know that some patients were very worried about using NHS services during the pandemic for fear of catching the virus, but these are safe, effective vaccines that are critical for protecting children and young people against many serious and potentially fatal diseases. Although Covid has dominated our lives for over a year, childhood diseases such as measles and mumps can also lead to severe life-long complications and even death in some cases.

“Vaccines only work if people have them so it is essential that parents continue to get their children vaccinated, despite the ongoing pandemic. They will not be burdening the NHS - they are safeguarding it for the future.

“Just as Covid vaccines have been a game-changer for the pandemic, the MMR and HPV programmes have also been game-changers in recent years, minimising the threat of childhood diseases and even saving lives. This important progress must not be undone; we cannot allow this pandemic to leave behind another devastating legacy.”

Further information

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RCGP Press office – 020 3188 7633/7494/7574
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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.