A NEW push to encourage Bradford families to get their children vaccinated against childhood illnesses like measles begins today.

The campaign comes at a time when vaccination rates across the country are at a 10-year low, putting children at risk of serious illness.

Health chiefs across Bradford will urge parents and carers to make sure that their children are fully vaccinated – and will target areas of the district where vaccine take-up is the lowest.

It will be part of a national campaign to counter the worrying trend of falling numbers of children vaccinated against potentially deadly illnesses.

The lower uptake has resulted in a recent rise in highly contagious and unpleasant infections like measles, with a number of cases being reported in Bradford so far this year.

In December the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) declared a national incident in response to an increase in measles cases in England.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: A measles vaccineA measles vaccine (Image: pixabay)

The national campaign being launched today will encourage parents and guardians, whose children (0-5 years old) who have missed or may miss a vaccine, to get their children vaccinated.

Areas where take-up is low will be targeted 

In Bradford, school immunisation teams will be contacting parents in areas of the district where take-up of the measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine is lowest.

Recent data shows that just 83.6 per cent of five-year-olds in the district have had two doses of the vaccine.

The target rate is 95 per cent.

92 per cent of five-year-olds in Bradford have had one dose.

Several special clinics will run from schools across the Bradford district from today until mid-April.

The school immunisation service will only be using the Priorix® vaccine which contains no pork gelatine.

What to do if you think your child has measles 

The advice for parents who think their child has measles or has been in contact with a confirmed case of measles is to stay at home and call your GP surgery (or 111 if out of hours).

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Measles

Do not visit the GP surgery/ out of hours, or hospital - call ahead so measures can be put in place for your arrival.

'This has prevented thousands of deaths' 

Across England, childhood vaccination programmes prevent around 5,000 deaths and more than 100,000 hospital admissions each year. They also save the NHS hundreds of millions of pounds.

In addition to MMR, these vaccinations have ensured that diseases such as polio and diphtheria have been practically eradicated in the UK.

Sarah Muckle, Bradford Council’s director of public Health, said: “Childhood immunisation has been one of the major health successes in the UK preventing thousands of deaths.

“We’ve seen recently that childhood diseases are on the increase again so it’s vital that parents and carers protect their children. We’re urging them to make sure their child is up-to-date with their vaccines.

“MMR is a very effective vaccine that has been used for many years and once you have had your first and second jabs you don’t need further jabs. MMR is available for free from the NHS to any individual regardless of age or immigration status.”

Last week Professor Dame Jenny Harries, chief executive of the UKHSA, said: “We need an urgent reversal of the decline in the uptake of childhood vaccinations to protect our communities.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Dame Jenny Harries Dame Jenny Harries (Image: PA)

“Through this campaign, we are particularly appealing to parents to check their children’s vaccination status and book appointments if their children have missed any immunisations.

“The ongoing measles outbreak we are seeing is a reminder of the very present threat.

Last week neighbouring Calderdale discussed the issue of falling vaccination rates at a council meeting.

Councillor Silvia Dacre (Lab, Todmorden), who is the cabinet member for resources, said: “I’d simply want to make a plea for all parents of children to make sure that their children have the two doses of the MMR vaccine.

“They can be upgraded in effect at any time, so if you’re not sure, go to your doctor, ask, get it done,” she said.

“It can be an extremely unpleasant illness and we’d really like everybody to take care of their children and try to ensure that we get the coverage up,” she said.

This would benefit the children and also the wider community, she said.

The UKHSA said it had recorded 650 cases of measles since October – the majority of cases were recorded in the West Midlands but clusters were now being seen in other parts of the country including Yorkshire and the Humber.