MMR vaccines offered at 28 North West pharmacies for children who missed out

Uptake of two MMR vaccines for children in the North West 85.2%, well below the World Health Organisation target of 95%.

Children aged 5-11 who have missed doses of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine will be able to get vaccinated at a pharmacy for first time thanks to a new initiative being trialled in the North West.

A small number of pharmacies across the region are the first in the country to take part in the pilot to support a national call and recall of under-vaccinated children and help increase MMR vaccines.

Uptake of both doses of vaccine, which is usually given to children aged one and then a second vaccine at around three years and four months, is 85.2% in the North West – and lower than 80% in some areas – which like many parts of the country is significantly lower than the World Health Organisation target of 95% coverage with two doses of MMR vaccine by 5 years.

Tricia Spedding, Regional Deputy Head of Public Health for NHS England – North West, said: “Measles is a highly infectious illness – complications can be life changing with dangers including blindness, deafness and swelling of the brain.

"Children who have not yet had both doses of the MMR vaccination are at risk of catching this very serious but completely preventable disease.

“By offering the MMR vaccine in pharmacies to children who missed one or both doses , we are hoping to make it easier and more convenient for parents to get their children protected.

Credit: ITV News Meridian

There are currently 28 participating pharmacies in the North West – 13 in Lancashire & South Cumbria and 14 in Cheshire & Merseyside. The scheme will be further rolled out to a small number of pharmacies in Greater Manchester in the near future.

Click here for the full list of participating pharmacies.

Parents of 5 to 11 year olds who are overdue one or both doses of MMR will be able to just walk in, with no appointment needed, although there may be a short wait if the pharmacist is busy. GP practices will also be able to refer patients for MMR vaccination in a pharmacy.

Michael Ball, a pharmacist clinician at Broadway Pharmacy in Preston, Lancashire, which is involved in the pilot initiative, said: “Offering MMR vaccines at community pharmacies provides patients with the chance to access services within their local community at a convenient time, enhancing accessibility and ultimately increasing vaccination rates.

“Our pharmacists are highly skilled in administering vaccinations and providing healthcare advice and reassurance to patients, helping to address any vaccine hesitancy, and ensuring individuals make informed decisions about their health.

“The role of community pharmacists is rapidly evolving in response to changes in healthcare delivery, technology, and patient needs.

Pharmacists are increasingly recognised as integral members of the healthcare team, with expanded clinical responsibilities and a greater focus on patient-centred care and public health initiatives aimed at promoting health and preventing disease.”

The pharmacy scheme is one of a number of initiatives that have been introduced in the North West over the past two months to increase MMR vaccine uptake in response to rising measles cases. Other schemes include:

  • The introduction of vaccine catch-up clinics in general practice, including evening and weekend sessions

  • Roving and outreach vaccine clinics in the community, including the Living Well Bus in Cheshire and Merseyside.

  • Extra vaccination sessions being put on by school aged immunisation providers in schools in some areas where uptake is lower.

In addition, GPs are continuing to call those aged 12 months to 5 for vaccination and parents of children who are due or have missed their MMR vaccines are being urged to come forward as soon as possible.

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