Parents urged to get children vaccinated after poll reveals concerns
Parents are concerned about taking their children to medical facilities to get routine injections as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, a new poll suggests.
A survey found just over a quarter (27%) of parents of young children said they currently would feel comfortable taking their child to a medical centre such as a GP surgery for vaccinations - down from 91% pre-pandemic.
As a result, one GP has urged parents to book in for outstanding vaccinations.
"General practitioners and practice nurses have now ensured their premises are safe for children and adults to receive routine vaccinations," said Dr George Kassianos, national immunisation lead for the Royal College of General Practitioners and president of the British Global and Travel Health Association.
"I would urge all parents of young children with outstanding immunisations, as well as adults, to contact their GP practice to arrange vaccinations."
Of the 22% of parents whose child had a vaccination appointment due during lockdown, 22% said their appointment had been postponed and 23% had chosen not to go because of the pandemic, according to polling conducted on behalf of the pharmaceutical company GSK.
Parents cited being concerned about exposing their family or themselves to the virus as a reason why they were not happy to proceed.
The poll of 2,500 British parents of children aged between nine months and 10 years found almost three-quarters (73%) said they were happy for their children to be vaccinated during the outbreak - down from 93% generally.
Respondents to the poll said they may be open to alternative vaccine procedures including nurse home visits, a drive-through facility, their local pharmacy or a mobile medical centre.
Dr Philip Cruz, UK vaccines medical director at GSK, said: "Parents are confident about the value of vaccines but there's anxiety about attending medical facilities during the pandemic.
"As the NHS continues to deal with coronavirus, it's important that parents feel confident in the safety measures put in place by medical centres, in line with public health and infection control guidelines.
"It could also be interesting to continue to explore innovative and untraditional locations for vaccine-delivery. Now is not the time for children to miss scheduled immunisations."
Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunisations at Public Health England, said: "Making it as easy and safe as possible for parents to access vaccines is a priority for the health system.
"Vaccines remain the best defence against infection. It's essential we maintain the highest possible uptake to prevent a resurgence of serious and sometimes life-threatening diseases.
"Routine vaccinations are available throughout the Covid-19 outbreak - it's vital that parents continue to take their children to appointments."
Dr Nikita Kanani, NHS England medical director for primary care, added: "Vaccines are an absolutely essential building block of good health, so if you or a member of your household are not displaying symptoms of coronavirus and are not self-isolating, vaccinations should happen as normal."