Nurses working in primary care and public health settings are being asked to help boost child vaccination rates by checking immunisation records for missed jabs.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence has published a draft quality standard on vaccine uptake in children and young people, sparked by falling immunisation rates.
“With so many children open to exposure we are at risk of a serious outbreak”
The draft standards, out for consultation until 29 September, set out NICE’s view on how to drive up the number of under 19s who receive routine vaccinations.
The quality standard includes five statements that set out priorities to drive up the number of immunisations given to children and young people.
For example, it stated that parents or carers of children who miss immunisation appointments should be followed up by telephone or with a text as this makes them more likely to rebook.
The standard also suggested that health visitors and nurses may be able to check if children had missed vaccinations during their usual reviews at the start of school or college.
In addition, it suggested that young offenders entering prison, or any other secure setting, should have their records checked for missed vaccinations, as they were less likely to be immunised.
Anyone under 19 who is found to have missed a vaccination in any setting should be offered one immediately or referred to a service that can provide them, stated NICE.
Registered stakeholders are now able to submit their views on the draft quality standard via the NICE website. The final quality standard is expected to publish in January 2017.
Latest NHS figures show millions of children are unprotected against potentially lethal diseases, with some child vaccination rates in England having fallen for the past two years, the institute warned.
In some areas, fewer than one in 10 children were vaccinated against diseases such as polio and diphtheria, it said, warning that there was a risk of “these diseases making a comeback”.
NICE added that last year only a quarter of local authorities met World Health Organization targets to vaccinate 95% of children against measles, mumps and rubella.
Professor Gillian Leng, deputy chief executive at NICE, estimated that around three million children and young people may have missed an MMR jab.
“With so many children open to exposure we are at risk of a serious outbreak,” she said. “This variation in uptake across the country is unacceptable.
“We now need peoples’ views to make sure we have set the right priorities to tackle this variation,” she added.