New figures published by Public Health Scotland reveal a decline in the uptake rates of key childhood vaccines in the Highlands. The coverage for boosters of the MMR vaccine, which protects against measles, mumps, and rubella, among five-year-old children dropped to 86 percent by June this year compared to 91 percent in the same period last year. Similarly, uptake rates for the 4-in-1 booster protecting against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, and polio decreased to 86.5 percent, one of the lowest rates in a decade.
The decrease in vaccine uptake in the Highlands coincides with a report that highlighted the challenges faced by NHS Highland in vaccine delivery after it transitioned from GPs to health boards in March 2023. Concerns regarding inefficiencies in the new system, such as long travel times for staff and limited accessibility to vaccine clinics for those living in rural areas, were raised in the report as well as by GPs and communities in the Highlands.
Although there has been a slight improvement in the uptake rates for the first doses of MMR and Men B vaccines, overall, the figures indicate a need for improvement. A NHS spokesperson acknowledged the need to enhance overall uptake and stated that efforts are underway to address this concern.
Source: Public Health Scotland, NHS Highland
– Public Health Scotland
– NHS Highland