More than half of the UK don’t know what diseases they’re vaccinated against

30 Aug 2018
More than half of the UK don’t know what diseases they’re vaccinated against

A survey of 2,000 Brits has revealed that most (91 per cent) are certain they have been immunised in the past but 55 per cent are unsure of the diseases and conditions they are protected against.

Despite the UK having a national immunisation programme in which vaccines are offered free on the NHS, almost half surveyed don’t know whether there are currently any available to them without a cost.

One in 10 don’t think they’ve ever had a vaccine or don’t know whether they have.

Meningitis Research Foundation (MRF), who commissioned the survey, is concerned by the apparent low awareness of vaccines, particularly as a catch up vaccination programme with the new MenACWY meningitis vaccine for teens and young adults has seen worryingly low uptake (around 40%).

To ensure protection from life-threatening illness, it’s vital that people remain up to date with their vaccines. Free vaccines are available not only to babies but at several stages throughout life, such as at school, in adolescence and as we age.

However, 45 per cent of those surveyed have never consulted their doctor or nurse to see if they have had all of their free vaccinations, and 79 per cent admit they should know more about their vaccination history and what they have been safeguarded against.

Of the parents surveyed, only one in four were certain their child was up to date on their vaccinations and 13 per cent didn’t know.

Vinny Smith, Chief Executive at MRF said: “Meningitis and septicaemia are deadly diseases that can strike without warning. Although babies are the most at risk, anyone can be affected at any age.

“Vaccination is the only way to prevent meningitis and septicaemia and we’d like to see more people aware of the vaccinations available.

“We encourage everyone to take up the offer of the vaccines included in the immunisation schedule.”

Despite a national vaccination programme that aims to protect all young people against a particularly deadly type of meningitis - meningococcal W meningitis and septicaemia (MenW), 76 per cent of 18-25 year olds surveyed were unaware of the disease.

Only 22 per cent of people surveyed know that teenagers are the age group most likely to carry and spread the meningococcal (meningitis causing) bacteria.

“We know that over a million teenagers and young adults have not yet got their free MenACWY vaccine from their GP meaning they are unprotected against the deadly strain." Vinny Smith, MRF

Vinny added: “The MenACWY vaccination programme was introduced for teenagers in 2015 to stop a rapid rise in cases of MenW.

“We know that over a million teenagers and young adults have not yet got their free vaccine from their GP meaning they are unprotected against the deadly strain.

“We received many calls to our helpline from people who had not been informed by their GP practice about the vaccine. This new research shows that a lack of awareness is likely to be a major reason for the low uptake.

“Teenagers and young adults are the age group that most commonly carry meningococcal bacteria in their nose and throat and they can spread it to others.

“By vaccinating teenagers, this will not only directly protect them against four types of meningitis and septicaemia, Men A, C, W and Y, it will also stop the bacteria spreading, which over time will offer protection for the whole population.

“The vaccine has proven highly effective at preventing disease in the age group eligible for the vaccine, but we’re not seeing cases of MenW reduce as quickly as we’d like in the other age groups yet and this could be because so many young people have not yet got their vaccine.

“We’re encouraging everyone to check their eligibility and book an appointment with their GP for the MenACWY vaccine, to protect themselves and to protect everyone.”

Most teenagers and young people up to the age of 22 can get the vaccine free as well as first year university students up to the age of 25.

One life. One shot
One life. One shot
Our campaign to get young people across the UK to take up the free MenACWY vaccine to combat a rapid rise in a deadly strain of meningitis
 
Media contact
Sam Williams - Media Relations Manager
Tel: 07875 498047
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