The proportion of children receiving the Measles Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccine on time in North East London fell from 79% to 72% during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new study by WIPH researchers.
The longitudinal study examined the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the timeliness of MMR vaccinations, and quantified geographic and sociodemographic inequalities in MMR receipt. Using primary care electronic health records from 285 GP practices, researchers compared a pre-pandemic cohort (children born August 2017-Sept 2018) with a pandemic cohort (born March 2019-May 2020), and found that timely MMR receipt fell from 79.2% to 75.2%.
Timely vaccination was also less likely in children from Black, Mixed/Other or with missing ethnic backgrounds. Conversely, it was more likely in girls than boys, and children from South Asian backgrounds. The proportion of neighbourhoods where less than 60% of children received timely vaccination increased from 7.5% to 12.7% during the pandemic.
Authors conclude that delayed receipt of MMR is geographically clustered in more deprived neighbourhoods, and this has worsened during the pandemic. Immediate action is needed to avert measles outbreaks and support primary care to deliver timely and equitable vaccinations.
Firman N, Marszalek M, Gutierrez A, Homer K, Williams C, Harper G, Dostal I, Ahmed Z, Robson J, Dezateux C. Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on timeliness and equity of measles, mumps and rubella vaccinations in North East London: a longitudinal study using electronic health records. BMJ Open. 2022 Dec 1;12(12):e066288. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2022-066288. PMID: 36456017.