This week the NHS is reminding parents and carers of the importance of vaccinating their child against a host of serious diseases.
The jabs which children receive in their early years – between birth and when they first go to school – are very important in helping them build protection against infections such as meningitis, diphtheria, polio, measles and mumps.
These diseases are in circulation and an infection can cause serious complications, particularly for a child.
But it is not only the child who is protected, vaccination programmes protect the whole population by making it harder for a disease to spread to others.
It is particularly important that children are fully up-to-date with all their jabs before they start school for the first time, which is when they come into contact with more potential sources of infection.
The vast majority of parents do ensure their child has been fully protected, but there are many children who are missing doses and are therefore at risk.
Latest figures show that 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 4-in-1 pre-school booster.
This means that more than 1,600 children are not fully protected against the risk of diphtheria, polio, tetanus and whooping cough.
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.
More information is available on the NHS Choices website, and if in any doubt that your child is missing important vaccinations you should speak to your GP surgery.
Play your part and help spread the message to family and friends and help to ensure children are fully protected.
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