LONG before social media had even been invented, and while I was leading post-natal support classes for new parents, I was having heated arguments with anti-vaxxers about the need for children to be vaccinated, writes Redditch MP Rachel Maclean.
Sadly today, social media has allowed conspiracy theories and misinformation to thrive resulting in a small but steady decline in vaccination uptake in the UK.
The damaging misinformation spread by anti-vaxxers has lost the UK it’s ‘measles-free’ status with the World Health Organisation (WHO) – just three years after the virus was eliminated in the country. This is really worrying.
They have scared parents into stopping their children getting vaccinated, not just putting their kids at risk, but everyone else’s kids too.
Ninety per cent of children in the UK are still receiving their childhood immunisations, but to combat the steady decline in vaccination uptake, it’s absolutely right that the Prime Minister has set out a number of measures aimed at improving vaccination rates, including for measles, mumps and rubella (MMR).
Currently just 87 per cent of children are getting their second dose of the jab, which has likely contributed to the spread of measles.
Part of this strategy will include NHS England writing to GPs urging them to promote ‘catch up’ vaccination programmes for MMR for 10 to 11 year-olds, as well as all those five to 25 year-olds who have not had two doses of the jab.
There will also be updated advice for parents on the NHS.UK website to address misleading information about the dangers of vaccines, by giving people NHS-approved, evidence-based and trusted advice.
All four of my children are vaccinated. Please get your children vaccinated.