From May 2023, parents and guardians of children aged one to 11, who are not up to date with their vaccinations, will be offered vaccinations for their children against polio and measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) through primary schools and community venues. They can also contact their GP surgery at any time to get their children up to date with their vaccinations.
Polio and measles currently pose a particular threat to the capital. Polio is a serious virus that can cause paralysis or even death. There is no cure for polio; vaccination is the only protection. In 2022, we found traces of the polio virus in sewage samples in London, suggesting that the virus has been spreading between people. While the recent booster programme in late 2022 was successful in giving booster doses to around 345,000 children, far fewer of those who were behind on their vaccination schedule came forward, leaving many without full protection. Those who have not been fully vaccinated could be at risk of catching polio.
There has also been a rise in measles cases in London this year, with 33 confirmed cases reported between 1 January and 20 April 2023 alone.
London has significantly lower rates of routine childhood vaccinations than other regions and this was made worse by the pandemic.
Parents of primary school aged children who may have missed a vaccine will be contacted by the NHS through their school age immunisation service (SAIS) provider. A registered healthcare professional will be able to talk them through the local offer, explain the consent process, answer any questions and arrange an appointment. Alternatively, parents can check their child’s red book and contact their GP to book an appointment for any missed vaccinations. Parents of children aged 1-4 should also contact their GP.
Chief nurse for the NHS in London Jane Clegg said: “We all want to keep children safe and protected from serious illness, which is why we’re doing everything we can to support parents across London to ensure their children are up to date with their vaccinations, especially polio and MMR. These vaccines will increase children’s protection and have been safely given to millions of children.”