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Protect yourself and those who can't get vaccinated


South-Lewish, Croydon-Imm.pngThis year, World Immunisation Week runs from 24-30 April and highlights the importance of vaccinating young children against diseases.


Across the UK, vaccination levels have fallen in recent years, with an estimated three million children and young people missing out on their measles, mumps and rubella vaccinations (MMR), according to the National Institute for Clinical Health and Excellence (NICE).


In Lewisham, 85.3% of 2 year olds were vaccinated against measles, mumps and rubella in 2016-17, which is below the national target of 95% that would fully protect out community.


Vaccines work by producing antibodies to fight the disease without actually infecting a person with the disease. If a vaccinated person comes into contact with the disease itself, their immune system will recognise it and immediately produce antibodies to stop them from becoming infected or reduce the severity of the illness.


Children who have not been vaccinated are at risk of catching diseases that can be easily prevented and they also put their schoolmates at risk - especially those who cannot receive certain vaccines for medical reasons.


Dr Marc Rowland, local GP and Chair of NHS Lewisham Clinical Commissioning Group said: "It is important that parents understand the risks of not vaccinating their children. Vaccines are the most effective way to prevent infections by viruses such as measles, mumps and rubella that can kill, or do life changing damage to your, or by spreading them around, other people's more vulnerable children."


"Throughout the school year, children are exposed to many serious childhood diseases that can be prevented through immunisation. When they get vaccinated against a certain disease, they build up their immunity, making them stronger and more resistant to that disease. That's why it's important to keep your family up to date with the recommended vaccines."


Vaccines are thoroughly tested before they are made routinely available. They are also monitored after they have started to be used to make sure they continue to be safe.


If you have any concerns about vaccinations talk to your GP, or visit NHS Choices for further information.


This includes a useful checklist of the vaccines that are routinely offered free of charge to everyone in the UK. You can also find information on travel vaccinations.