Families will get text message reminders about their children’s vaccinations in a bid to stop declining rates of some immunisations, the Conservatives have announced.
The national vaccination reminder system, announced as part of the party’s election campaign, will see text messages and digital reminders sent to families from their GP, with a paper option available for those without a digital medical record.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “The science is clear: vaccines save lives, and ensuring that children are properly immunised is one of the most important things any parent can do for their children.
“So we will introduce a national vaccination reminder system, to make sure as many children as possible are vaccinated.”
The move is part of a wider vaccination strategy, which the Tories have pledged to launch within the first 30 days of a majority administration, to regain the UK’s “measle-free” status.
Uptake of childhood immunisations exceeds 90%, according to the government, but there has been a steady decline in recent years.
Just 87% of children are getting their second MMR jab, which protects against measles, mumps and rubella, below the World Health Organisation target of 95%.
The decline in uptake is widely thought to be the cause of a spike in measles cases in the UK.
In August 2019 the UK lost its World Health Organisation “measles-free” status just two years after it was graded following 991 confirmed cases in 2018, compared to 284 in 2017.
Anti-vaccination myths spread on social media have previously been blamed for falling levels of MMR uptake.
It’s hoped the text message and digital reminders will help increase uptake of the vaccine.
The NHS Long Term Plan also committed a range of measures to increase vaccination uptake, including a review of the GP contract for vaccination and immunisation and improve local support to target groups with low uptake.