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'Too few children' get vital jabs

Not enough children in England are getting vital vaccinations to protect against serious infections and illnesses, new figures suggest.

During 2013/14, 94.3% of children reaching their first birthday were reported to have been given the "five in one" series of jabs which protect against diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, polio and haemophilus influenzae type b, according to the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC).

This falls below the 95% recommended by the World Health Organisation

The HSCIC's latest statistics on immunisation also show that 92.7% of children reaching their second birthday had received the MMR jab which protects against measles mumps and rubella

Even though coverage is at its the highest level since the vaccine was first introduced in 1988, England remains below the World Health Organisation (WHO) target of "at least 95%" of children receiving the jab.

HSCIC said that in 2013/14, coverage in England was below that of other UK countries for all routine childhood vaccines as measured when youngsters are one, two and five years old.

Children in the North East are more likely to have their routine vaccinations than those in London, the figures show.

Coverage was highest for all childhood vaccines in the North East - apart from the "five in one" jab which had the highest coverage in the East Midlands. It was was lowest in London for all routine childhood vaccinations.

Professor John Watson, deputy chief medical officer at the Department of Health, said: "Vaccinations are a vital way to protect children against a range of illnesses and we encourage families to take them up when offered.

"It is very encouraging to see that the MMR vaccine uptake is now at its highest ever level, having risen for the sixth year in a row.

"However, there are still some marked regional differences in the uptake of vaccines and we urge local areas to take action to improve this."

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