MMR uptake at its highest levels
The proportion of babies and toddlers having their first dose of the MMR jab is at its highest level since the vaccine was first introduced, figures show.
In 2012/13, 92.3% of children in England had been immunised by their second birthday, compared with 80% when the jab was first introduced in 1988.
Youngsters have their second dose of the vaccine against measles, mumps and rubella before they start school, usually between the ages of three and five.
The lowest recorded figure for the first dose was in 2003/04, when just 79.9% of children were immunised.
Research published in 1998 suggesting a link between the MMR vaccine and autism led to a dramatic decline in the number of children vaccinated.
The study, led by Dr Andrew Wakefield, has since been discredited by scientists around the world.
While healthcare professionals will welcome the latest figures, coverage in England is still below the 95% target set by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
England has never hit this target, according to the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC), which published the latest figures.
Its new report found MMR coverage has increased regionally as well as nationally.
Coverage was over 90% in nine out of 10 strategic health authority areas, with the highest recorded figure in the North West at 94.9% and the lowest in London at 87.1%.
Today’s report also showed that coverage in England was below that of other UK countries for all routine childhood vaccinations measured at one, two and five years.
The percentage of children immunised against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio and haemophilus influenzae type b (DTaP/IPV/Hib) by their first birthday was 94.7%, unchanged from last year.
The proportion of children receiving the haemophilus influenzae type b and meningococcal group C (Hib/MenC) booster by their fifth birthday rose to 91.5% in 2012/13, compared with 88.9% in 2011/12.
Mary Ramsay, head of immunisation at Public Health England, said: “Routine vaccination in childhood is vital in protecting children from a range of infectious diseases, many of which have now been consigned to history.
“The findings from HSCIC’s report are a good indication that parents and children are increasingly able to access primary care to receive these vaccinations and to protect their health for the years to come.
“This is a good reminder to parents to ensure their child’s vaccinations are up-to-date, and, if not, to contact their GP.”
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