Immunisation and public health
Immunisation is a global public health success story as a cost-effective strategy which saves millions of lives every year. Immunisations reduce risks of getting a disease by working with your body’s natural defences to build protection. High immunisation uptake is desirable to protect as many of the eligible population as possible. Ensuring that coverage is not only high overall, but also within underserved communities is also essential for disease control and elimination strategies.
Immunisation challenges in London
Over recent years coverage of certain vaccines, such as MMR, has been falling in London. This aligns with national and global patterns and is resulting in preventable outbreaks, particularly for both measles and mumps.
Furthermore, immunisation uptake in London is the lowest out of all of the English regions across a number of important vaccines including Covid-19, MMR and Flu. Immunisation rates are lowest in poorer families, those from minority ethnic backgrounds and those who may find it more challenging to access services such as the very elderly and children with learning and physical disabilities.
The reasons for declining vaccine uptake is suggested to be due to:
- Vaccine Hesitancy: Vaccine hesitancy refers to the reluctance or refusal to get vaccinated despite the availability of vaccines. It can stem from various factors such as misinformation, concerns about vaccine safety or efficacy, religious or cultural beliefs, and a lack of trust in healthcare systems. Addressing vaccine hesitancy is essential to ensure high vaccination rates and population protection.
- Inequitable Vaccine Access: Ensuring equitable access to immunizations is a significant challenge in densely populated areas like London. Barriers to access may include socioeconomic disparities, language barriers, limited healthcare infrastructure in certain areas, and difficulties reaching marginalized or underserved communities. Efforts to improve accessibility and outreach programs are necessary to address these disparities.
There is concern that if low vaccination rates continue, incidence in preventable diseases will increase at both the individual level and population level – due to loss of benefits associated with herd immunity. ADPH London wants to improve coverage in vaccination programmes across the life course to protect population health and reduce inequalities, by addressing barriers to uptake and improving access to services.
ADPH London Immunisations Network
ADPH London hosts The Immunisations Network which aims to bring together Public Health colleagues working on Immunisations in London. The network allows colleagues to share good practise and knowledge whilst encouraging collaboration across London.
- ADPH London Lead and Chair – Kirsten Watters (Director of Public Health – London Borough of Camden and ADPH London Immunisation Lead).
- Co-chairs Susan Elden (Public Health Consultant/ SIL Immunisations Lead for NHSE London) and Joanne Wilson (Programme Lead NHS London Legacy and Health Equity Partnership).
- Coordinator and Secretariat – Chris Billington, Public Health Strategist, ADPH London.
To get in touch with the ADPH London team regarding the Community of Practise, please contact email@example.com.
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