HEALTH AND CARE: Is your child fully protected?

It is particularly important that a child is up to date with their vaccinations before they start school
It is particularly important that a child is up to date with their vaccinations before they start school

More than a thousand children in West Sussex are potentially not protected from a number of serious diseases.

Latest figures show that while the majority of children are vaccinated, last year only 86 per cent of children in the county had received both doses of the MMR jab.

Similarly, only 81 per cent of eligible children had received the four-in-one pre-school booster, meaning that more than 1,600 children are not fully protected against the risk of diphtheria, polio, tetanus and whooping cough.

As the NHS marks World Immunisation Week, we are calling for parents and carers to check that your children are up to date with important vaccinations.

Early childhood vaccinations are vitally important as they help to build immunity, protecting a child against a host of serious diseases such as some strains of meningitis, diphtheria, measles, mumps, rubella and whooping cough.

Successful vaccination programmes have helped to make such diseases much rarer, but they are still in circulation and if vaccination levels fall, the likelihood of an outbreak is increased.

Across the county during the last year there were 54 notified infections of mumps and 71 of whooping cough.

It is particularly important that a child is up to date with their vaccinations before they start school as this is when they come into contact with many more potential sources of infection.

Achieving at least 90 per cent coverage in the local population is the minimum target to prevent infections spreading.

Below this level, the number of people not vaccinated means it is more likely for an infection to spread.

As more of the population is vaccinated, a disease can sometimes disappear completely, as has happened with smallpox.

If 95 per cent of children are protected by MMR, it’s possible to eliminate not just measles, but mumps and rubella as well.

It is not too late for children to catch up with their vaccinations, ensuring that they are fully protected.

Please speak to your GP surgery if you have any concerns and make sure your child is protected.

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