NHS urges public to get essential vaccines despite coronavirus outbreak
NHS England is urging people to attend all regular vaccination appointments to prevent outbreaks of serious diseases and reduce pressure on the health service.
The NHS is continuing to help people to manage illness linked to coronavirus, but is still urging parents to bring children forward for lifesaving jabs to stop killer diseases like measles and mumps.
With many people expressing concern and even fear about seeking help during the virus emergency, the NHS is running a nationwide campaign to encourage people to come forward for help when they need it.
Essential, routine vaccinations like the MMR jab can save a child’s life and are available through family doctors, including in some parts of the country through new children’s immunisation drive-through clinics.
As long as those attending appointments, including parents of babies or children, do not have symptoms or are not self-isolating because someone in the household is displaying symptoms, all scheduled vaccinations should go ahead as normal.
Dr Nikita Kanani, NHS England Medical Director for Primary Care, said: “Vaccines are an absolutely essential building block of good health, so if you or any member of your household are not displaying symptoms of coronavirus and are not self-isolating, vaccinations should happen as normal.
“While the NHS is taking unprecedented measures to protect people from coronavirus, local services are working hard to ensure that people including babies, children and pregnant women still receive their routine vaccinations – they provide essential protection against potentially life-threatening diseases.”
The national immunisation programme is highly successful in reducing the number of serious and life-threatening diseases such as whooping cough, diphtheria and measles.
High vaccine uptake can prevent a resurgence of infections, which can cause harm and put unnecessary added pressure on the NHS.
Despite a sustained push from the NHS and partner organisations, the influence of so-called antivaxxers is thought to have played a part in a decline in uptake for the MMR jab in recent years.
Public Health Minister Jo Churchill said: “Vaccines help protect all of us from preventable outbreaks of infectious diseases like measles which can have devastating consequences.
“Children should continue to go to their routine vaccination appointments when they are invited by their GP. If you need to visit your GP, parents should be reassured that going to a medical appointment is classed as essential travel as long as no one in the household is displaying COVID-19 symptoms.”
When attending appointments, people should follow government guidance and ensure they are two metres apart from anyone outside their household and minimise time spent outside.
If a patient or a member of their household develops coronavirus symptoms, they should follow government guidance and reschedule their appointment.
If individuals or members of a household need advice from a GP practice about symptoms not related to coronavirus, they should contact the practice online or by phone to be assessed.
Dr Mary Ramsay, Head of Immunisations at Public Health England, said: “The national immunisation programme remains in place to protect the nation’s health and no one should be in any doubt of the devastating impact of diseases such as measles, meningitis and pneumonia.
“During this time, it is important to maintain the best possible vaccine uptake to prevent a resurgence of these infections.”
Parents are advised to do this if their children have symptoms of scarlet fever as we reach the peak season between late March and mid-April. Symptoms of this include a rash, sore throat, headache and fever.
Scarlet fever mainly infects children and is most common between the ages of 2 and 8 years. It was once a very dangerous infection but has now become much less serious, with antibiotic treatment now available to minimise the risk of complications, however there is currently no vaccine.
A full list of vaccinations and when they are available, for children and adults, is accessible through the NHS website.