Parents and carers in Lancashire are being urged to check their children’s vaccinations are up to date as the new school term begins.
The vacination alert came as newly released figures revealed a fifth of children starting school in the Preston area last year – and some 2,000 across Lancashire – were not fully immunised against once common infectious diseases.
A NHS spokeswoman said: “Around 2000 children started school in Lancashire last year who were not fully immunised with MMR (measles, mumps, rubella vaccine) or pre-school booster.
" Uptake was lower in some areas with only around 80 per cent of children in Greater Preston being fully immunised. This means that in a class of 30 children approximately six would not be fully immunised.”
With just 84- 86 per cent of children receiving their pre-school booster and two doses of MMR the county was slightly below the national average.
NHS England (Lancashire and South Cumbria) and Public Health England have joined forces to promote awareness of the benefits of vaccination.
Jane Cass, Head of Public Health, NHS England (Lancashire & South Cumbria) said: ‘‘Immunising your child is the safest, simplest way to protect your child from childhood diseases, so make sure your child does not miss out. Measles for instance is a potentially fatal but entirely preventable disease and the only way to prevent measles outbreaks is to ensure good uptake of the MMR vaccine. If you are unsure whether your child is fully immunised, speak to your GP who will have a record.”
She continued: "Starting school is an exciting time, but as many new children come in to close contact with each other for the first time, it also comes with an increased risk of contracting diseases. This campaign is important to ensure our children’s health, and I really do encourage parents to check if their child needs any vaccinations to make sure they are properly protected.”
The four-in-one pre-school booster, given as a single jab containing vaccines against diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough (pertussis) and polio is normally administered when a child is about three years and four months old. Children should also have received two doses of the MMR vaccine before they start school.
The pre-school booster is known to be very effective, not only in protecting children but also stopping onward infection as children can pass on germs to babies or those too young to have had all of their vaccinations.