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Chelsea and Westminster Hospital launch pilot campaign to raise awareness of childhood vaccinations

23 October 2013

Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust is today launching a campaign – ‘Protect their future: Don’t wait to vaccinate’ – that is being piloted in collaboration with Central London Community Healthcare NHS Trust and Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust to help parents understand the importance of childhood immunisation.

Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust is today launching a campaign—‘Protect their future: Don’t wait to vaccinate’—that is being piloted in collaboration with Central London Community Healthcare NHS Trust and Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust to help parents understand the importance of childhood immunisation. The month-long campaign, funded by a medical education grant from Pfizer, will launch with a roadshow in west London, offering parents information and advice from doctors and health visitors on the facts about vaccinations for children.

After clean water, vaccination is the most effective public health intervention in the world for saving lives and promoting good health. Yet uptake of childhood vaccines in London – including the boroughs of Hammersmith and Fulham, Kensington and Chelsea, and Westminster—remains amongst the lowest across the UK and continues to fall below government targets of at least 95% coverage.

In some London boroughs, such as Westminster, as many as three in ten children have not had all the recommended vaccines, including booster doses. This means many children in the capital are being left vulnerable to vaccine-preventable diseases, some of which can lead to long-term ill health, permanent disability and even death.

Dr Kati Hajibagheri, Consultant Community Paediatrician and Clinical Lead for Immunisation, Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, says: “Immunisations are one of the greatest breakthroughs in modern medicine. Every parent wants to protect their child from illness and vaccines are one of the most effective ways of doing this.

“We are piloting our campaign, ‘Protect their future: Don’t wait to vaccinate’ to highlight the benefits of immunisation and the risks of the diseases they protect against. We hope by doing this it will help answer any questions about immunisation and allow parents to make informed decisions to help them protect their children from serious infections, such as meningitis.”

Nicki Banyard, Immunisation Specialist Nurse, Kensington and Chelsea, Central London Community Healthcare NHS Trust, says: “To avoid further outbreaks, such as the measles epidemic in Wales earlier this year, we need more parents to ensure their children are having all their vaccines. That includes boosters which provide additional protection from infections and can help reduce the chance of diseases spreading.”

Dr Stefan Studnik, Consultant Paediatrician and Immunisation Coordinator at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, added: “Imperial is very happy to support this comprehensive campaign by running similar activities at St Mary's Hospital and Hammersmith hospitals. This important campaign has the potential to inform parents all about the benefits of immunisation. It will allow parents to have a better understanding that vaccines can save children's lives and prevent serious illnesses.”

Protect their future: Don’t wait to vaccinate—the Roadshow

In addition to visiting three west London hospitals, the roadshow will visit the Baby Show at London Olympia from Friday 25 to Sunday 27 October and Westfield Shopping Centre, Shepherds Bush, during half-term break (Monday 28 October to Friday 1 November). Posters and information leaflets will also be distributed to parents via schools, day-care centres and other community venues across three London boroughs—Hammersmith and Fulham, Kensington and Chelsea, and Westminster—where childhood vaccination rates are amongst the lowest.

Dr Ranj, children’s TV doctor will be on the stand at Westfield Shopping Centre, and says: “Parents have lots to juggle when it comes to caring for their children and we understand that keeping up with all the recommended vaccines can be tricky. But vaccines are one of the most important means of protecting the future of our children and so we urge parents—don’t wait to vaccinate.”

“If parents want to know more about vaccinations for their children, we encourage them to visit us at one of our stands in west London or discuss it at a routine appointment with their health visitor, practice nurse or GP,” concludes Dr Kati Hajibagheri.