The Health and Social Care Committee has published its report Prevention in health and social care: vaccination, warning that the UK is at risk of losing its position as a global leader on vaccination without action to address challenges around uptake and bureaucratic processes in setting up clinical trials.
The report calls for urgent action to tackle declining rates among children, citing concern that England did not meet the 95% target for any routine childhood immunisations in 2021/22. MPs note that England was the only nation of the UK where coverage for all childhood vaccines at all ages was below the target, and coverage rates were consistently below the UK average. The Committee urges a more flexible delivery model to deliver vaccinations to overcome practical challenges over times or locations.
The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) gave evidence to the inquiry and has responded to the reports final findings.
Ben Lucas, Managing Director at MSD and ABPI Board member, gave evidence to the inquiry on behalf of the ABPI. He said: “The UK has historically had a strong record on vaccination, so it is frustrating to see rates going in the wrong direction when better preventative measures could ease wider pressures on the NHS. To get back on track, we must look at the whole immunisation journey, from development, to assessment, through to getting vaccines to those who need them.
“Firstly, we must fix the slow and bureaucratic set up of clinical trials to streamline innovation. Next, we need to ensure our regulators and independent scientific advisers have the resources they need to properly assess new vaccines quickly. Finally, we need the right data and healthcare teams in place to deliver flexible vaccination services tailored to the needs of local communities and underserved populations.
“We welcome the Committee’s comprehensive report and look forward to seeing the forthcoming NHS vaccination strategy, which we hope will put these recommendations into action without delay.”