Local Spotlight: Liverpool instrumental in new childhood immunisations campaign

Liverpool City Council’s Public Health team has played a key role in devising a new multi-media marketing campaign across England to remind parents and carers to get their children vaccinated against serious diseases.

The campaign, which launched on 4th March, is told from the perspective of children and in their voices. In addition to a TV advert, the campaign is running across a range of channels and formats including radio advertising, digital display, online and on social media.

Professor Matt Ashton, Liverpool’s Director of Public Health said:

“Immunisation provides lifetime protection against serious diseases such as measles, mumps and rubella and a high uptake level is vital if we are to prevent future outbreaks and epidemics.

“The current measles outbreaks in other parts of the country are a stark reminder of the consequences of a falling vaccination rate.

“I am proud that our Public Health team have played a key role in devising this powerful campaign, which will hopefully help drive an increase in vaccinations and give children immunity from serious diseases.”

The campaign theme and materials are based on insight and feedback from parents and has been developed by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) in partnership with Liverpool City Council, NHS England, NHS North West and NHS Greater Manchester.

Dr Jenny Harries, CEO of the UKHSA said:

“We need an urgent reversal of the decline in the uptake of childhood vaccinations to protect our communities. Through this campaign we are particularly appealing to parents to check their children’s vaccination status and book appointments if their children have missed any immunisations. The ongoing measles outbreak we are seeing is a reminder of the very present threat.

“While the majority of the country 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.”

Uptake levels of childhood vaccines offered through the routine NHS vaccination programme in England have been falling over the past decade, including vaccines for whooping cough, measles, mumps and rubella, polio, meningitis and diphtheria – with England no longer having the levels of population immunity recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO) that is needed to prevent outbreaks. Crucially, lower vaccine uptake within communities is directly linked to wider health inequalities.

In Liverpool, for example, only around 71 per cent of children are fully vaccinated with the two doses of MMR they need.

To counter this decline, the UKHSA is co-ordinating the national marketing campaign with a NHS operational MMR catch-up campaign. Areas with low uptake will be a focus for support and parents of children aged from six to 11 years will be contacted directly and urged to make an appointment with their child’s GP practice for any missed MMR vaccines.