A new campaign has been launched to increase childhood vaccinations in the South West.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), which is spearheading the campaign, launched it on Monday (March 4) amid rising concerns over a falling vaccine uptake, and the detection of 11 cases of measles in the South West since October 2023.

Around one in 10 children in the region are not fully updated with all their vaccines, including the MMR.

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The marketing campaign will include a video ad expressing children's perspectives.

The children warn their parents and carers: "If we're not vaccinated, we're not protected".

Recent statistics indicate a continued drop in childhood vaccines, including diphtheria, measles, mumps, rubella, polio, whooping cough, and meningitis.

The decline has led to a decrease in the population immunity levels in England recommended by the World Health Organisation to prevent outbreaks.

Poorer vaccine uptake has been linked to larger health inequalities in communities.

Data from July to September 2023 showed 92.4 per cent of five-year-olds in the South West are fully vaccinated.

However, 89.7 per cent are fully protected against measles, mumps, and rubella.

Deputy regional director at UKHSA South West, Professor Dominic Mellon, said: "While the majority of the country and South West is protected, there are still high numbers of children in some areas that continue to be unprotected from preventable diseases.

"It is not just their own health that can suffer, but other unvaccinated people around them such as school friends, family and those in their community could also experience serious infections.

“Unless uptake improves we will start to see the diseases that these vaccines protect against re-emerging and causing more serious illness.”

Health minister Maria Caulfield said: "This campaign is an important step to engage local communities and highlight the importance of immunisation, as diseases like measles are not illnesses of the past."

To maximise the impact of the campaign, UKHSA will handle its national marketing campaign alongside an NHS operational MMR catch-up campaign.

They will focus on regions with low uptake and contact parents of children aged from six to 11 directly, urging them to make an appointment with their child’s GP practice for any missed MMR vaccines.

National Director for Vaccinations and Screening at NHS England, Steve Russell said: "The MMR vaccination offers the best protection against becoming seriously unwell, and while an increase in measles cases is a global issue, the NHS in England is doing all it can to ensure people have the best possible protection, which is why we have expanded our MMR catch up campaign even further in recent weeks and have been contacting hundreds of thousands of families, urging them to come forward."

Visit https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinations/nhs-vaccinations-and-when-to-have-them/ for the full NHS Childhood vaccination timetable.