The meningitis ACWY vaccine is to be offered in all Hampshire secondary schools from September in a bid to boost take-up.
Currently the county is one of a minority of areas where the vaccination is not offered through all schools.
“We believe that uptake is higher in schools because it is more convenient for teenagers”
NHS England Wessex
The latest data from Public Health England for the period from September 2015 to August 2016 shows Hampshire is one of 19 local authority areas in England where not all children are vaccinated through schools.
Six areas offer the Men ACWY jab to school-aged children through GP practices, while 13 have a mixed model of provision with vaccinations provided by both GPs and schools.
Regional body NHS England Wessex, which covers Hampshire, said it had inherited a mixed model of immunisation when office was established in 2013
When the Men ACWY vaccination was introduced, “a decision was taken to provide it through the existing routes”, said a spokeswoman.
However, the body said it was now planning to offer all routine adolescent immunisations through a schools based programme from September 2017, “based on strong evidence that providing immunisation in schools increases uptake”.
“We believe that uptake is higher in schools because it is more convenient for teenagers,” said the spokeswoman. “However, parents will still have the choice for children to have the vaccination at their GP practice if that is their preference.”
The vaccine was added to the national immunisation programme in August 2015, as part of efforts to combat a steep rise in infections caused by the highly aggressive strain of group W meningococcal bacteria. The vaccine also protects against the A, C and Y strains,
The goal was to immunise all teenagers in school Years 9 to 13 before they finished Year 13. Approximately half of teenagers in Years 9 and 10 in 2015-16 were offered the vaccine that year, while the remaining half were offered it the following year.
Coverage for the first groups to be routinely offered the vaccine in schools across England was 77.2% for Year 10 and 84.1% for Year 9, shows the latest available data from Public Health England
However, take-up among older teenagers – offered the jab free through GP practices – has remained stubbornly low at around a third.
Data for Hampshire is not included in the latest information “due to technical difficulties in extracting data for a mixed model”.
Information on take-up of the Men ACWY vaccine in 2016-17 is due to be published later this year.