Children in London offered polio and MMR vaccinations through primary schools

From May 2023, parents and guardians of children aged one to 11, who are not up to date with their vaccinations, will be offered vaccinations for their children against polio and measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) through primary schools and community venues. They can also contact their GP surgery at any time to get their children up to date with their vaccinations.

Polio is a serious virus that can cause paralysis or even death. There is no cure for polio; vaccination is the only protection. In 2022, we found traces of the polio virus in sewage samples in London, suggesting that the virus has been spreading between people. While the recent booster programme in late 2022 was successful in giving booster doses to around 345,000 children, far fewer of those who were behind on their vaccination schedule came forward, leaving many without full protection. Those who have not been fully vaccinated could be at risk of catching polio.

There has also been a rise in measles cases in London this year, with 33 confirmed cases reported between 1 January and 20 April 2023 alone.

London has significantly lower rates of routine childhood vaccinations than other regions and this was made worse by the pandemic.

Parents of primary school aged children who may have missed a vaccine will be contacted by the NHS through their school age immunisation service (SAIS) provider. A registered healthcare professional will be able to talk them through the local offer, explain the consent process, answer any questions and arrange an appointment. Alternatively, parents can check their child’s red book and contact their GP to book an appointment for any missed vaccinations. Parents of children aged 1-4 should also contact their GP.

Dr Muhammad Naqvi, a Newham GP and Clinical Lead for immunisations in north east London, said:

“Polio and measles can have tragic consequences if you are not vaccinated and can lead to serious long term health problems.

“The good news is that both infections are easily preventable and vaccinations are available for children locally at schools, community venues and at GP surgeries.

“Wherever you chose to have your child vaccinated, healthcare professionals will be able to explain the process and answer any questions or concerns you might have.”

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