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Local NHS champions childhood vaccines this World Immunisation Week

22 April 2024

  • Working in partnership
  • Campaigns and awareness

The NHS in Lancashire and South Cumbria is marking World Immunisation Week (24-30 April) by highlighting the serious risk childhood diseases can pose if children aren’t vaccinated.

The World Health Organisation’s annual campaign aims to raise awareness of the value of vaccines and immunisation so that globally more people – and their communities – can be protected from vaccine-preventable diseases.

With childhood infections like measles and whooping cough rising locally and across the UK, Lancashire and South Cumbria Integrated Care Board (ICB) is championing the UK’s childhood vaccination programme, which prevents around 5,000 deaths, and more than 100,000 hospital admissions, each year in England.

Vaccinations have ensured the UK has been declared free of diseases such as polio, with others, like diphtheria, almost fully controlled. However, in recent years we have seen a trend of lower vaccine uptake, and this has been exacerbated by the pandemic. 

Jane Scattergood, a director of health and care integration at the ICB, said: “We no longer have the high levels of population immunity in our region that we once had, which has led to increased risk for those who are unvaccinated or under-vaccinated. 

“This year, we have already seen increased cases of measles and whooping cough, so there is an urgent need to ensure children are vaccinated and protected against these serious illnesses, which can have long-lasting and life-altering effects.

“All childhood vaccinations offered by the NHS have proven to be extremely safe and effective, and it is important that if your child has missed a vaccine, you should contact your GP to catch up.​”

You will be contacted by your GP practice when your child is due a routine immunisation – this could be by phone, text or email.

To have full protection, children sometimes need to have booster vaccines. You should check their red book or speak to your GP to see if they are missing any. ​

Measles, which has been on the rise in the UK and has seen cases in Lancashire this spring, can be mild for some children, however one in five will require a hospital visit. Infection can lead to complications, such as meningitis and sepsis, in one in fifteen children.

Whooping cough (pertussis) can also have serious effects, and in babies it can lead to an increased chance of having problems such as dehydration, breathing difficulties, pneumonia, and seizures.

However, conditions such as these are preventable through vaccinations.

Jane Scattergood added: “These infections can have a huge impact on your child’s life, for example, they could miss out on school, be hospitalised, and even experience life-long complications, disability and, in some cases, tragically they can lead to death.

“It is important for parents, including soon-to-be mothers, to take up the offer of the NHS’ free childhood immunisation programme as soon as they are offered to ensure their child has the best protection.”

See the full immunisation timetable and information on how to book.