Polio outbreak the ‘jolt’ needed to tackle falling child vaccine uptake, un expert met en garde

Polio outbreak the ‘jolt’ needed to tackle falling child vaccine uptake, un expert met en garde
‘There has been a general downward trend in coverage in most childhood vaccines over the past 5-10 années,’ say scientific advisers to the government

La Grande-Bretagne polio outbreak should be the “jolt” that is needed to tackle falling vaccine rates in enfants “before it is too late”, a leading scientific adviser to the government has warned.

The proportion of infants and toddlers vaccinated against childhood diseases in England has fallen in the past five years and experts warn the recent detection of polio in London wastewater provides a warning of a potential resurgence of other illnesses, tel que rougeole.

Figures show that fewer children across the country received a vaccine in 2020/21 to protect against measles, mumps, rubella, polio, diphtheria and rotavirus, par rapport à 2016/17. London reported some of the lowest and sharpest declines during that time.

In a meeting held last summer by the government’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), advisers said “there has been a general downward trend in coverage in most childhood vaccins over the past 5-10 years”, equivalent to an approximate 2.5 per cent decrease.

Professor Sir Andrew Pollard, a leading scientific adviser to the government and director of the Oxford Vaccine Group, said the polio outbreak — the first of its kind in nearly 40 years — should prompt authorities to address falling vaccine rates.

“Some reductions in coverage happened as a result of the pandemic, but there are some areas where vaccination rates [in young children] are lower than they should be, and this finding should jolt us into action before it is too late," il a dit L'indépendant.

Complacency among parents, rising misinformation on social media and a lack of access in parts of the country have all played a role in driving down coverage rates in young children, with the trend exacerbated by the Covid pandemic, paediatricians say.

Scientists are particularly concerned around the persistently low uptake of MMR booster jabs in recent years, which protects against measles, mumps, and rubella. Dans 2020/21, certains 92,875 — or 13.2 per cent of — children aged five in England had not received a second dose, which is needed to provide full protection.

“MMR is probably the one which has the worst uptake,” said Dr Liz Whittaker, a senior clinical lecturer in paediatric infectious diseases and immunology at Imperial College London.

“The booster dose has been lost the most during the pandemic, which is why we’re so worried about a measles outbreak at the moment because we know that with the one dose of measles and incomplete coverage leaves us short.”

<p>Profesor Sir Andrew Pollard, director of the Oxford Vaccine Group</p>

Profesor Sir Andrew Pollard, director of the Oxford Vaccine Group

Dr Maggie Wearmouth, a former JCVI member, said measles was becoming “a major concern for the future,” adding that it was vital parents get their children vaccinated against the infection, which in rare instances, can lead to severe respiratory and neurological complications.

Britain last saw a sharp rise in measles in 2018, lorsque 991 cases were confirmed in England and Wales.

In the past five years, uptake of a vaccine which protects under-1s against six serious conditions including polio, diphtheria and hepatitis B, has fallen from 93.4 pour cent à 92 pour cent. À Londres, the decline has been more acute, decreasing from to 88.8 pour cent à 86.7 pour cent.

Dans 2020/21, the borough of Hackney had the lowest vaccine coverage rates for under-1s in the country. Juste 67.8 of children there had received the 6-in-1 jab, while only 63.9 per cent had been vaccinated against rotavirus. Low uptake was also recorded in Camden, Haringey, Birmingham and Liverpool, les chiffres montrent.

Paul Hunter, a professor of medicine from the University of East Anglia, said the low coverage in parts of London had set the foundations for the recent polio outbreak.

Samples of the virus were detected in wastewater and appear to show genetic signs of having evolved while spreading between people in the northeast of the capital.

<p>A community health worker with a dose of the polio vaccine  </p>

A community health worker with a dose of the polio vaccine

“You rarely see this sort of pattern in places where you’ve got high vaccine coverage," il a dit. “It’s spreading in north London because it’s in communities that have had a low vaccine uptake.”

MMR coverage has similarly dropped in recent years. Dans 2016/17, certains 91.6 per cent of under-2s in England had received their first dose. Par 2020/21, this had fallen to 90.3. Once again, the drop-off was more noticeable in the capital, decreasing from 85.1 pour cent à 82.4 pour cent.

Dr Whittaker said there were three main reasons — “the three Cs” — why uptake of childhood vaccinations had fallen.

“Complacency, so people don’t see the infections," elle a dit. “They don’t see that it’s a problem. The prioritisation of vaccination becomes lower because we have such good coverage and parents aren’t as concerned.

“Convenience, making sure that it’s easy for parents to access the vaccinations their children need. Maybe they can’t afford to travel to a GP, or a parent returns to work and doesn’t have the time they previously did to take their child for a follow-up jab.

“And confidence. People have more access to information in a way than they never had before, and that information isn’t always rational. It’s perhaps not as accurate or is misleading and puts people off. Rising mistrust of health authorities in certain communities also plays a role.”

NHS England has been approached for comment.

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