“Get up to date on children’s jabs” call as summer holidays arrive

Date: 04/08/2023

Parents of school-aged children in Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes have been urged to bring their vaccinations up to date during the summer holidays, as fears rise of a surge in infectious diseases once the new school year starts in September.

The warning comes after parents in London were recently alerted to the potential for a major measles outbreak in the capital this autumn.

Although the risk of a major epidemic is lower elsewhere, local GPs and health leaders are keen to ensure that children in Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes have the protection which vaccinations provide against a range of serious childhood diseases.

Last week, a parliamentary report from the Health and Social Care Committee warned of declining childhood vaccination rates, noting that England did not meet the 95% target for any routine childhood immunisations in 2021/22, the most recent full year for which figures are currently available.

Dr Sanhita Chakrabarti, deputy chief medical director and clinical lead for children’s and maternity services at Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes Integrated Care Board, said:

“There are lots of reasons why your child may not be up to date on all of their immunisations.  We know that some families couldn’t attend routine appointments during the COVID-19 pandemic, and many of those children are now at school or coming up to school age.

“We also know that families sometimes change their minds, so even if you previously chose not to have your child vaccinated, the opportunity is still there.

“The first few weeks after the summer holidays are notoriously bad for infectious diseases, as families return from breaks in the UK or farther afield.  You can make sure your child doesn’t fall behind at school from an absence early in the school year which is preventable through the NHS immunisation programme.”

Dr Sarah Whiteman, chief medical director at Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes Integrated Care Board, said:

“The NHS offers 13 routine immunisation programmes for children under the age of five, but there is a recommended schedule up to the teenage years.

“The MMR vaccine is safe and effective, offering protection against measles, mumps and rubella which are dangerous, highly infectious illnesses which can cause serious complications.  Your child should have received two doses of the MMR vaccine before reaching school age, and you can check this in their personal child health record (red book).

“Older children and young adults can also come forward for any immunisations they may have missed, prior to returning to school, college or university.”

Parents of children whose vaccinations are not up to date should contact their GP surgery to ask how to catch up before the school and college in September.

Alternatively, there are walk-in and bookable slots available during the summer holiday in towns across Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes which will be shared widely via social media at www.facebook.com/BLMKHealthAndCare and www.twitter.com/BLMKHealthCare.

Clinics which have already been announced are as follows:

Summer vaccination clinic locations and dates

All clinics run from 9:30am to 3:30pm.  To book, where required, please call 0300 790 0594.

Bedford Borough (booking required)

  • Church Lane Community Centre: Tuesday 1 August; Tuesday 29 August
  • Wootton Community Centre: Friday 11 August; Friday 25 August

Central Bedfordshire (booking required)

  • Dunstable South Children’s Centre: Monday 7 August
  • Sandy Village Hall: Tuesday 8 August
  • Parkside Community Hall, Ampthill: Tuesday 15 August

Luton (booking required)

  • Dallow Road Community Centre: Wednesday 2 August; Wednesday 16 August
  • Luton Irish Forum, Hitchin Road: Friday 4 August; Friday 18 August; Friday 1 September

Luton (walk-ins; no booking required)

  • Dallow Road Community Centre: Wednesday 9 August; Wednesday 30 August

Milton Keynes (walk-ins; no booking required)

  • Giffard Park Community Centre: Thursday 3 August; Thursday 10 August; Thursday 17 August; Thursday 24 August; Thursday 31 August