Missed vaccinations during coronavirus pandemic could lead to ‘resurgence’ in measles and whooping cough

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Preventable diseases such as measles and whooping cough could make a resurgence unless more young children are vaccinated against them.

That’s the warning from clinicians who claim some pre-school children are not receiving their routine immunisations on time due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Health professionals working in communities say they have received reports of parents and carers turning down invitations to attend their GP surgery due to concerns about potential infection.

A campaign has now been launched to offer reassurance over the safety of places like GP surgeries and address a range of other concerns, including immunisations for families who are shielding.

“It is natural to feel scared and reluctant to bring your child to the surgery during this time,” said Nicola Baker, operational lead for the Flying Start health team in Swansea Bay University Health Board.

“But be assured that they are following the latest guidance and will take all possible precautions to prevent the spread of Covid-19 to keep you, your child and staff safe during your child’s appointment.

“This will include the regular cleaning of the surgery, the use of personal protective equipment, and arrangements to keep a safe distance from others.”

She added: “For those families and children who are shielding, we are asking them to contact their health visitor or local surgery to discuss arrangements for immunisation at home.”

Nicola and her colleagues have recorded a series of short videos answering many of the questions parents have been asking them, including how best to travel to their appointments for those able to do so.

Staff at Clydach Primary Care Centre in Clydach, Swansea, have also taken part in a video to show parents, carers and children what to expect when they come in.

GP Iestyn Davies said: “These are challenging times and GP surgeries are working very differently at the moment.

“But we are still here to serve our communities and the immunisation programme remains a high priority.

“It is best for children to have their vaccinations on time so that they are protected as lockdown is gradually lifted and people start to go out more and meet up with family and friends.

“We won’t all be at home forever and we don’t want to see potentially-fatal illnesses like measles given the chance to take hold in our communities.”

Health Minister Vaughan Gething said he wants people to feel confident in going into health care settings like GP surgeries so families can still have these vaccinations.

During his weekly press conference from Cathays Park on Tuesday, MrGething said: “We want to give people confidence to come into healthcare settings.

“Not making sure that children and young people have the appropriate vaccinations means that there is a much greater risk of harm itself.

“It’s also an important factor to take into account when the seasonal flu campaign begins. It will be even more important this year that people entitled to an NHS flu jab take it, protect themselves and people around them.”

The UK lost its measle-free status by the World Health Organisation (WHO) last year, and Mr Gething said that was driven by a fall in uptake in England.



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