The rate of childhood immunisation in Lewisham is “still not good enough”, according to the council’s cabinet member for health and adult social care.  

Figures published last week showed that the borough’s uptake of childhood vaccines has fallen in almost all the childhood immunisations over the last three years.

Herd immunity works when enough of the population becomes immune to a disease, whether through vaccination or previous infections.  

It also protects those who are unable to get vaccinated because of health conditions, age, compromised immune systems, or allergies.  

In 2017/18, 89.6 per cent of two-year-old children received the MMR1 vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella, but this dropped to 84.8 per cent in following year and remained the same for 2019/20.

This is more than 10 per cent lower than what is needed for herd immunity (95 per cent), and more than five per cent lower than the national average (90.6).

Just over 90 per cent of children aged one received the 6-in-one vaccine, which offers protection against diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, hepatitis B, polio and Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib), in 2017/18.  

The figure dropped to 89.1 per cent the following year, and rose to 90 per cent in 2019/20.  

The number of children who received the HIB/Meningitis C booster at two years went from 89.4 per cent in 2017/18 to 84.9 per cent in 2018/29 and down again to 84.3 per cent last year. 

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Ahead of Lewisham’s full council meeting last week (October 21), Councillor Alan Hall asked for the rate of immunisations for the last three years across the borough.  

At the meeting he urged the cabinet member for health and adult social care to “ensure that there’s a public awareness campaign on the importance of maintaining all these vaccinations” and “to promote the influenza vaccine in Lewisham for both children and vulnerable adults”.  

The percentage of people over 65 getting the flu vaccine dropped by nearly five per cent to 63.2 per cent in 2019/20. 

The cabinet member for health and adult social Cllr Chris Best said Lewisham’s performance is better than the London average.  

“But of course it’s still not good enough on childhood immunisation,” she said.  

Cllr Best said the council is working closely with an immunisation partner to improve uptake, and agreed that a campaign is needed.  

“We are working closely with the CCG, we are improving the call and recall of the parents for childhood immunisation by the GPs. 

“There’s also a gap with the data collection from GPs – that was partly to do with the change of systems.  

“We have got a new child health information service […] working with GPs to help identify ways that we can improve the uptake.  

“I agree with you, we have to do better [..] it’s a very difficult time, I can assure you that I’m doing my level best on the immunisation,” she said.  

The council is also aiming to push flu vaccines to improve uptake.  

“It’s going to be a trial run for the Covid vaccine, so it’s more important than ever that we promote vaccinations,” she said.