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MMR vaccine service being piloted from 28 pharmacies in the North West

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MMR vaccine service being piloted from 28 pharmacies in the North West

Twenty-eight pharmacies in the North West of England are piloting an MMR vaccination service for children aged 5-11 years who have missed one or both doses, NHS England has said.

The initiative is aimed at supporting a “national call and recall of under-vaccinated children,” said NHSE, with the MMR uptake in the North West region currently standing at 85.2 per cent, with some areas having rates as low as 80 per cent.

The World Health Organisation target is for 95 per cent of children aged five years to have received two doses of MMR vaccine.

The pilot is taking place from 13 pharmacies in Lancashire and 14 in Cheshire and Merseyside, with a “small number” of pharmacies in Greater Manchester set to be enrolled “in the near future”.

Parents of children aged between five and 11 who are overdue a dose may present at participating pharmacies with no appointment, although NHSE is advising the public that there “may be a short wait”. The pilot also includes a referral route from GP surgeries to pharmacies.

Michael Ball, a pharmacist at Broadway Pharmacy in Preston, said: “Offering MMR vaccines at community pharmacies provides patients with the chance to access services within their local community at a convenient time, enhancing accessibility and ultimately increasing vaccination rates.

“Our psychiatrists are highly skilled in administering vaccinations and providing healthcare advice and reassurance to patients, helping to address any vaccine hesitancy and ensuring individuals make informed decisions about their health.”

Mr Ball said the pilot illustrates how the role of community pharmacists is “rapidly evolving in response to changes in healthcare delivery, technology and patient needs,” with the sector taking on “expanded clinical responsibilities” in the public health and disease prevention sphere.

NHSE described the new pilot as one of a range of initiatives that have been launched in the North West over the past two months in response to concerns about rising cases of measles, including vaccine catch-up clinics in GP surgeries and extra vaccination sessions being put on in schools.

Regional deputy head of public health Tricia Spedding said:  “Measles is a highly infectious illness – complications can be life changing with dangers including blindness, deafness and swelling of the brain.

“Children who have not yet had both doses of the MMR vaccination are at risk of catching this very serious but completely preventable disease.

“By offering the MMR vaccine in pharmacies to children who missed one or both doses, we are hoping to make it easier and more convenient for parents to get their children protected.”

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