The childhood immunisation programme needs greater clarity and efficiency if progress is to be made. Vaccination ranks only below clean water as the most important health intervention in the world for saving lives and promoting good health. England’s Childhood Immunisation Programme (CIP) currently delivers routine vaccinations for 12 infectious diseases: most vaccinations are administered in four stages to infants from two to thirteen months, with flu vaccine (nasal spray) given to children aged two and three, and two pre-school injections (DTaP/IPV booster and MMR second dose) given at three years and four months, or soon after.
Some of the recommendations in this report build on existing strategies, others suggest changes or new agencies of support. None are designed to dismantle the new CIP architecture. It is essential that the new system is allowed time to embed. But it is also clear that a multi-strategic approach is required to make significant progress towards increased uptake and equity within the CIP. It is therefore important that immunisation is given due priority both at the ‘area’ level and at the local level, by Public Health, Clinical Commissioning Groups and Health and Wellbeing Boards. The danger is to see the CIP on a safe trajectory towards improvement on the basis of legacy Primary Care Trust strategies. But with key changes to governance and commissioning models, now is the time to take stock and recalibrate the CIP, most importantly ensuring that even hard to reach children have easy access to services, giving them the greatest chance of maximum protection from communicable diseases.