Posted: Tue 25th Apr 2023

UK teens face disease risk as vaccine uptake declines

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Tuesday, Apr 25th, 2023

A report from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has highlighted a concerning decline in the uptake of adolescent vaccines, leaving many 13 and 14-year-olds at risk of life-threatening diseases.

The data, which focuses on school year 9 students during the 2021 to 2022 academic year, shows that uptake of the Td/IPV and MenACWY vaccines has fallen to 69%, a 7% drop from the previous year and well below pre-pandemic levels.

The Td/IPV booster, which provides long-lasting protection against tetanus, diphtheria, and polio, and the MenACWY vaccine, safeguarding against four types of meningococcal disease, are both essential for adolescents.

These rare but serious diseases can lead to hospitalisation, permanent disability, or even death.

The decline in vaccine uptake is attributed to challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

While the NHS has managed to catch up many children who missed their vaccines, with rates improving to around 80% for year 10 students, the UKHSA is urging parents and guardians to ensure their children are up-to-date before leaving school.

Dr Vanessa Saliba, Consultant Epidemiologist at UKHSA, emphasised the importance of vaccinating eligible adolescents, stating, “These vaccines offer the best protection as young people start their journey into adulthood and mixing more widely.”

Health Minister Maria Caulfield also stressed the significance of routine vaccinations, saying they remain “one of our best defences against infectious diseases, not just for the person being vaccinated but for their family, friends, and those around them.”

Parents are encouraged to speak with their child’s school nurse, school immunisation team, or GP surgery to arrange catch-up vaccinations if necessary.

Steve Russell, National Director for Vaccination and Screening, urged families to come forward for their vaccines as soon as possible, calling it “the best way to keep you protected.”

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