politics

Tories plan vaccination text reminders from GPs to boost uptake


Families will get reminders by text from their GP to get their children vaccinated in an attempt to reverse a decline in some immunisations, the Conservatives have announced.

A fall in the number of children getting their second dose of the MMR jab has resulted in a series of measles outbreaks that prompted the World Health Organization to strip the UK of its measles-free status.

If the Tories win a majority at the general election, they pledge that every family will receive a reminder from their doctor, most likely via text, when it is time for their child’s next vaccination.

The health secretary, Matt Hancock, said: “The science is clear: vaccines save lives, and ensuring that children are properly immunised is one of the most important things any parent can do for their children.

“So we will introduce a national vaccination reminder system, to make sure as many children as possible are vaccinated.”

Uptake exceeds 90% for most childhood immunisations, according to the government, but there has been a steady decline in coverage in recent years.

The new system would involve text messages and digital reminders, with the option for postal reminders for those without a digital medical record.

The announcement on Wednesday is part of a wider vaccination strategy which the Tories promise to launch within 30 days of a majority administration.

The ideal take-up rate to limit the measles infection is 95% of the population getting two doses of the MMR vaccine. Data suggests that only 87% of children are getting it, down from a high of 88% in 2014-15.

With just over two and a half weeks until voters go to the polls the Tories are releasing details of proposed policies to be rolled out within their first days in office – many of which could be seen as an attempt to secure their core vote.

They are also pledging to tackle poor mobile phone signal in rural areas, which are mostly Tory-held seats.

Currently only 66% of the UK landmass has geographic coverage for customers of all four network operators. The Conservatives claim this will rise to 95% or more under their plan, to be unveiled in their first 100 days should they get into office.

They say they will finalise a £1bn agreement with mobile phone operators to pool existing phone masts, and build new ones, to improve coverage of 4G in the countryside.

Under this “shared rural network”, infrastructure would be shared between the four mobile phone providers – 02, Three, Vodafone and EE – and would be the first agreement of its type in the world, according to the Conservatives.

Boris Johnson said: “If a Conservative majority government is elected, in our first 100 days we will fast-track agreements for mast sharing between networks, alongside new investment in mobile infrastructure to tackle rural not-spots by 2025 and make poor mobile signal a thing of the past.”



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