Parents are being urged to vaccinate their children to avoid a wave of preventable illnesses burdening the NHS.
The advice from the Local Government Association (LGA) follows research indicating a drastic dip in the take-up of HPV, meningitis and MMR vaccinations since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
The LGA, which represents councils in England and Wales, said on Friday that a “national effort” to vaccinate children and young people will help to relieve long-term pressures on the health service.
NHS England’s national director of primary care described it as “crucial that your children get their jabs as normal”.
The results of a poll published at the end of June showed that just 27 per cent of parents of young children said they would feel comfortable taking their child to a medical centre such as a GP surgery for vaccinations – down from 91 per cent before the pandemic.
Meanwhile, research by Public Health England and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine showed that immunisations fell by 20 per cent in the first three weeks of lockdown.
Judith Blake, the LGA’s spokeswoman for children and young people, said: “The national immunisation programme is highly successful in reducing the number of serious and life-threatening diseases such as whooping cough, scarlet fever and measles.
“High vaccine uptake can prevent a resurgence of these infections, which can cause harm and put unnecessary added pressure on the NHS. We really do encourage parents to check if their child needs any vaccinations to make sure they are properly protected.”
The LGA said the schools that remained open throughout the pandemic have demonstrated that they have the control measures in place to safely provide immunisation programmes.
Dr Nikki Kanani, a GP and NHS England national director of primary care, said: “Despite the ongoing pressure brought by the Covid-19 pandemic, MMR and other vaccination appointments are still going ahead safely – and so as long as you or your family members are not displaying symptoms of coronavirus, or self-isolating, it is crucial that your children get their jabs as normal.”