Calls for chemists to offer MMR jab on the NHS in bid to thwart measles as pharmacists say parents wanting their kids to get jabbed are struggling to get GP appointments

Photo of author
Written By Rivera Claudia

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur pulvinar ligula augue quis venenatis. 

  • Chemists say relying largely on GP surgeries to deliver the vaccine is flawed
  • They are calling on the NHS to let them help with national catch-up programme

The NHS must allow pharmacies to administer the MMR jab in order to prevent further measles outbreaks, health leaders warn.

Chemists say relying largely on GP surgeries to deliver the vaccine is flawed as patients often struggle to secure appointments.

They are now calling on the NHS and Department of Health and Social Care to commission them to assist with a national catch-up programme amid a worrying surge in cases.

A fall in vaccine uptake means almost 3.5million under 16s are at risk of catching measles, mumps, and rubella, the government has said.

Figures show there have been 216 confirmed measles cases and 103 probable cases in the West Midlands since October 1 last year.

In England, 89.3 per cent of two-year-olds received their first dose of the MMR vaccine in the year to March 2023 (blue line), up from 89.2 per cent the previous year. Meanwhile, 88.7 per cent of two-year-olds had both doses, down from 89 per cent a year earlier

But the UK Health Security Agency has declared a ‘national incident’ and is urging parents to vaccinate their children amid fear cases could spread to other towns and cities.

Some chemists offer private MMR jabs but the NHS does not fund them to provide a service on their behalf.

Pharmacy trade bodies say allowing their members to offer the jab to patients for free – with the cost covered by the NHS – would help to reverse the trend in uptake as it will make it easier to access.

Dr Leyla Hannbeck, chief executive of chief executive of the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies, said pharmacies had successfully helped to deliver Covid jabs for the NHS during the pandemic and people appreciated the convenience.

Calling for them to be involved once more, she added: ‘It’s something pharmacies could be commissioned to do because they are already well-trained on vaccination services and are accessible for patients.

‘At a time when it is difficult for many patients to book an appointment with the GP surgeries, having such vaccination services commissioned through community pharmacy makes sense and can provide the convenience for many patients.

‘We have always said we are willing to help lift pressure elsewhere in the NHS if we are funded appropriately to do so.’

Malcolm Harrison, chief executive of the Company Chemists’ Association, which represent major chains such as Boots and Superdrug, echoed the calls.

He said: ‘Pharmacy teams have considerable experience and expertise in delivering national vaccination programmes.

‘Vaccine uptake is strongly influenced by accessibility.

‘Commissioning any NHS vaccine from community pharmacy makes it more convenient and easier for patients to access, increasing uptake and reducing health inequalities.’

Health minister Maria Caulfield yesterday told MPs that officials are sending letters to parents of unvaccinated children, GPs are setting up extra clinics and vaccine buses are ‘targeting communities with low vaccination rates’.

The vaccine catch-up scheme will target all parents of children aged six to 11, urging them to make an appointment for any missed MMR jabs.

It will also target areas of low uptake, contacting more than one million people aged 11 to 25 in London and the West Midlands.

Responding to an urgent question in the Commons, Ms Caulfield said for the MMR vaccine to protect the country, 95 per cent of people need to receive it.

But she warned the MMR ‘reach’ is currently only 89.3 per cent for the first dose at 2 years old and 84.5 per cent for the second dose at five years.

The minister added: ‘My message to those mums and dads of children that are not vaccinated at the moment is to come forward.’

In a separate written statement to Parliament, Ms Caulfield said analysis showed one infected child in a classroom can infect up to nine other unvaccinated pupils, making it one of the most infectious diseases worldwide and more infectious than Covid.

She added: ‘One in five children with measles will need to be admitted to a hospital for treatment – which could put additional pressure on the NHS.’

Latest UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) data shows there were 1,603 suspected measles cases in England and Wales in 2023. The figure is more than twice as high as the 735 logged in 2022 and an almost five-fold rise compared to the 360 cases reported in 2021

Latest UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) data shows there were 1,603 suspected measles cases in England and Wales in 2023. The figure is more than twice as high as the 735 logged in 2022 and an almost five-fold rise compared to the 360 cases reported in 2021

Cold-like symptoms, such as a fever, cough and a runny or blocked nose, are usually the first signal of measles. A few days later, some people develop small white spots on the inside of their cheeks and the back of their lips. The tell-tale measles rash also develops, usually starting on the face and behind the ears, before spreading to the rest of the body

Cold-like symptoms, such as a fever, cough and a runny or blocked nose, are usually the first signal of measles. A few days later, some people develop small white spots on the inside of their cheeks and the back of their lips. The tell-tale measles rash also develops, usually starting on the face and behind the ears, before spreading to the rest of the body

Health minister Maria Caulfield today urged mothers and fathers of unvaccinated children to 'come forward'. She said: 'It is not too late, there is no age cap, anyone who has not had their vaccination can come forward'

Health minister Maria Caulfield today urged mothers and fathers of unvaccinated children to ‘come forward’. She said: ‘It is not too late, there is no age cap, anyone who has not had their vaccination can come forward’

Alastair Buxton, director of NHS Services at Community Pharmacy England, said: ‘Community pharmacies are very popular vaccination centres and with the right funding and support they could become the home of a much wider range of NHS vaccinations, including MMR jabs.

‘This would be convenient for the public as well as helping to take pressure off busy GP practices.’

Conservative MP Steve Brine, who chairs the Commons health and social care committee, said the government must commit to a ‘flexible delivery model, including through pharmacy’.

He added: ‘It is deeply concerning to see warnings about the potential spread of measles against the backdrop of known and falling levels of vaccination.’

Steve Russell, NHS director of vaccinations and screening, said the health service ‘is acting quickly to tackle the spread of measles’.

An NHS England spokesperson said: ‘GPs and their teams are doing a good job of safely vaccinating children, and their efforts last winter led to around a 10 per cent increase in number of measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccinations delivered to children compared to the previous year.

‘The NHS is contacting millions of parents and carers of children to book their children in for an appointment with a GP for their missed MMR vaccine to tackle the current resurgence of measles, and more widely the NHS continues to explore ways of pharmacies delivering vaccines to children.’

WHAT JABS SHOULD I HAVE HAD BY AGE 18?

Vaccinations for various unpleasant and deadly diseases are given free on the NHS to children and teenagers.

Here is a list of all the jabs someone should have by the age of 18 to make sure they and others across the country are protected:

Eight weeks old

  • 6-in-1 vaccine for diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, polio, Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib), and hepatitis B.
  • Pneumococcal (PCV)
  • Rotavirus
  • Meningitis B 

12 weeks old

  • Second doses of 6-in-1 and Rotavirus 

16 weeks old

  • Third dose of 6-in-1
  • Second doses of PCV and men. B 

One year old 

  • Hib/meningitis C
  • Measles, mumps and rubella (MMR)
  • Third dose of PCV and meningitis B 

Two to eight years old

  • Annual children’s flu vaccine

Three years, four months old

  • Second dose of MMR
  • 4-in-1 pre-school booster for diphtheria, tetanus, polio and whooping cough

12-13 years old (girls)

  • HPV (two doses within a year)

14 years old

  • 3-in-1 teenage booster for diphtheria, tetanus and polio
  • MenACWY  

 Source: NHS Choices

SOURCE

Leave a Comment

bcd bcd bcd bcd bcd bcd bcd bcd bcd bcd bcd bcd bcd bcd bcd bcd bcd bcd bcd bcd bcd bcd bcd bcd bcd bcd bcd bcd bcd bcd bcd bcd bcd bcd bcd bcd bcd bcd bcd bcd bcd bcd bcd bcd bcd bcd bcd bcd bcd bcd bcd bcd bcd bcd bcd bcd bcd bcd bcd bcd bcd bcd bcd bcd bcd bcd bcd bcd bcd bcd bcd bcd bcd bcd bcd bcd bcd bcd bcd bcd bcd bcd bcd bcd bcd bcd bcd bcd bcd bcd bcd bcd bcd bcd bcd bcd bcd bcd