COVID-19 vaccinations for young children now expected to start later this year.
The UK government has said it expects up to 80,000 people who have never had a measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine to be eligible for one.
This could lead to thousands more being given these vaccinations without having had either MMR or chickenpox vaccines – the only vaccines required to prevent these diseases.
“Up to 80,000 people will not have had one of these five vaccines,” Health Secretary Matt Hancock said.
The vaccination schedule for the year, published on Monday, will include vaccinations for:
“Up to 40 million children may now have no protection from these five diseases – meaning they may be able to catch these or other infections just by coming in contact with someone who has not had a vaccination,” he said.
The Department of Health said any eligible children born this year to women who did not have one of these six vaccinations would be offered an MMR vaccine in their first year of life.
“In England and Wales, we’ve made our health service system very efficient in ensuring everyone who needs to get a vaccine receives it. With the introduction of the MMR, we want to take it one step further – ensuring every person who is eligible for the vaccine gets one.”
The new schedule also includes three other vaccinations for children in the first three years of life.
There will be a two year wait for adults who need to be vaccinated against tetanus and diphtheria.
And while it’s unknown which vaccines will be offered for children aged 16 and 17, there may also be some change in the way children receive the MMR vaccine in the first year of life.
This will be done by making available a single dose at 16 months – the usual age of the MMR.
The government said this would be “in line with the advice given in the 2019 UK Immunisation Advisory Committee document.
As well as measles, mumps and rubella, the new schedule also includes chickenpox and varicella.
For children under five, only the chickenpox vaccine will be offered.
There is no separate schedule for adults. Adults who need to get the MMR vaccine will