Value of vaccines
Communications campaign briefing
England is a world leader in childhood vaccination, with one of the most comprehensive programmes in the world. Our data show that, although coverage remains high, children’s vaccine uptake has been slowly decreasing since 2012-13, meaning that children have missed out and may remain vulnerable to serious or even fatal infections.
Recently, there has been increased political and media focus on this decline, with the media speculating that anti-vaccine groups and messaging may be having an impact on the programme. The more media and others talk about this issue and the more airtime anti-vaccine groups are given, the more the focus on this as the cause of the decline is seen to be true.
Evidence from PHE’s attitudinal surveys suggests that parental confidence in the national immunisation programme is at an all-time high. There is currently no evidence that anti-vaccine activity has had a major impact on vaccine coverage in England. The main reasons for the decline in coverage are therefore thought to be related to delivery by local primary care providers and accessibility.
While parents may be exposed to anti-vaccine content on social media, PHE research shows that they are far more likely to trust the NHS and their healthcare professional than what they see on social media. The main sources of information regarding immunisation used by parents are leaflets (60%) and the Red Book (50%). Three times as many parents cite use of leaflets than online sources (20%). Only 4% of parents decline one of the many vaccines offered to their children.
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