Black Country babies at risk as they miss out on vital jabs
Babies in the Black Country and Staffordshire could be at risk of catching potentially serious illnesses as uptake rates for important jabs fall below safe levels, figures reveal.
The British Society for Immunology has urged the government to deliver on its promise to develop the UK’s first vaccine strategy to protect communities against “nasty diseases”.
Young children should get the so-called six-in-one jab, which protects against six serious infections including polio, whooping cough and diphtheria, in the first few months of their lives.
But new Public Health England data shows that the uptake rate for the West Midlands over the period was 92.2 per cent – the second-lowest of any region in the country. It compares to one of the best regions, the North East, where 95.4 per cent of children are immunised.
A further breakdown of the figures show that in Wolverhampton, just 89.7 per cent of babies who had their first birthday in the six months to September were vaccinated. It means 173 children missed out, with the area falling way short of the 95 per cent rate recommended by the World Health Organisation to prevent outbreaks.
In Walsall the figure was 93.1 per cent, with 131 children missing out, and in Sandwell it was 90.2 per cent, with 223 children not getting vaccinated. Dudley was one of the best areas, with 96 per cent of one-year-olds having the jabs, and only 75 babies missing out.
Over in Staffordshire it was 94.7 per cent, just shy of the recommended 95 per cent rate. About 224 children missed out on being vaccinated.
“Low levels of vaccination coverage matter as it means these diseases have the potential to spread within our communities, infecting unvaccinated people, with young babies and people with compromised immune systems particularly at risk,” said Dr Doug Brown of the British Society for Immunology.
“We urge the new government to deliver on its promise to develop the UK’s first vaccine strategy and to fully fund immunisation services to ensure our communities are protected against these preventable diseases.”
But he also urged parents to make sure their children get the jabs, adding: “If anyone is worried their child hasn’t received all the doses of the six-in-one vaccine, they should make an appointment at their GP surgery. It’s much better to get your child vaccinated than put them at risk.”