Childhood Immunization Rates in Britain Could Be Better

February 29, 2008

Although the majority of British children are immunized with the combined measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine, a substantial proportion remain susceptible to infection due to the conscious decision of their parents not have them immunized, according to an article published Feb. 28 in BMJ Online First.

FRIDAY, Feb. 29 (HealthDay News) -- Although the majority of British children are immunized with the combined measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine, a substantial proportion remain susceptible to infection due to the conscious decision of their parents not have them immunized, according to an article published Feb. 28 in BMJ Online First.

Anna Pearce, of the UCL Institute of Child Health in London, U.K., and colleagues investigated the uptake of the combined MMR vaccine and single antigen vaccines for measles, mumps and rubella, and the factors associated with vaccine uptake in a nationally representative cohort of 14,578 British children.

In all, 88.6 percent of the children were immunized with MMR, while 5.2 percent had received at least one single antigen vaccine. Children were more likely to be unimmunized if they lived with one parent only, lived in a household with multiple children, or if their mother was under age 20 or over age 34 at their birth, more educated, and not employed or self-employed. Among unimmunized children, nearly three-quarters of their parents reported making a "conscious decision" not to immunize their children, largely due to perceived risks of the vaccine.

"Although [vaccine] coverage is relatively high, it remains lower than the estimated level required to ensure herd immunity (over 95%), leaving a substantial proportion of children susceptible to avoidable infection," the authors conclude.

Authors of the study have disclosed past financial relationships with vaccine manufacturers.

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