Baby vaccine uptake rate below safe levels in St Helens

New Public Health England data shows that 88.6% of those in St Helens who had their first birthday in the six months to September were vaccinated
New Public Health England data shows that 88.6% of those in St Helens who had their first birthday in the six months to September were vaccinated

Babies in St Helens could be at risk of catching potentially deadly illnesses as uptake rates for important jabs fall below safe levels, figures reveal.


The British Society for Immunology has urged the new government to deliver on its promise to develop the UK’s first vaccine strategy to protect communities against “nasty diseases”.

Young children should get the so-called six-in-one jab, which protects against six serious infections including polio, whooping cough and diphtheria, in the first few months of their lives.

But new Public Health England data shows that just 88.6% of those in St Helens who had their first birthday in the six months to September were vaccinated.

It means 115 children missed out, with the area falling short of the 95% rate recommended by the World Health Organisation to prevent outbreaks.

The uptake rate for the North West over the period was 92.2%, while the figure across England stood at 92.1%.

The British Society for Immunology said the uptake rate across England for the six-in-one vaccine among one year olds has averaged around 92% over the past year.

“Low levels of vaccination coverage matter as it means these diseases have the potential to spread within our communities, infecting unvaccinated people, with young babies and people with compromised immune systems particularly at risk,” said Dr Doug Brown, the group’s chief executive.

“We urge the new government to deliver on its promise to develop the UK’s first vaccine strategy and to fully fund immunisation services to ensure our communities are protected against these preventable diseases.”

But he also urged parents to make sure their children get the jabs.

He added: “If you are worried your child hasn’t received all the doses of the six-in-one vaccine, do make an appointment at your GP surgery.

“It’s much better to get your child vaccinated than risk them catching one of these nasty diseases.”

Babies should have three rounds of the six-in-one vaccination at eight, 12 and 16 weeks of age.

It helps them develop a strong immunity to diphtheria, hepatitis B, haemophilus influenza type b, polio, tetanus and whopping cough – all described by the NHS as “serious childhood diseases”.

Health minister Nicola Blackwood said: “Every child must be vaccinated against dangerous and potentially fatal diseases. Vaccine uptake is very high, at around 90%, for most childhood vaccines, but we are determined to drive rates up even further.

"Our new vaccination strategy, published in the new year, will consider a range of approaches to improve uptake.”