In September 2021, Public Health England released new rules surrounding the timing of BCG vaccination, increasing the minimum age of vaccination to 28 days. This has been implemented in line with a pilot disease screening programme that tests eligible newborns for Severe Combined Immunodeficiency (SCID), the outcome of which becomes available by the time the baby is 6 weeks old. It is important that we wait for the result of this test before giving the BCG vaccine.
What is SCID screening?
All newborn babies in the UK are currently offered blood spot screening (heel prick test) that looks for 9 rare diseases, including sickle cell and cystic fibrosis. The NHS is considering introducing an additional test for Severe Immunodeficiency (SCID), a name given to a group of rare, inherited disorders that cause major abnormalities in the immune system. Affected infants have an increased risk of life-threatening infections and will normally become severely unwell in the first few months of life. Without treatment they will rarely live past their first birthday. About 14 babies a year are born in England with SCID.
The evaluation of this testing, which began on 6th September 2021, is taking place in 6 areas across England and will cover around 60% of new born babies. It is running alongside the existing blood spot screening and the intention is to roll it out nationally once the 2 year evaluation has been made.
Why does this affect the BCG vaccination?
Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) is a live attenuated vaccine that can cause problems if given to an immunocompromised person. Treatment for SCID is more complicated if the child has received the BCG vaccine, so it is important that if your child has been tested. We wait for a negative result before vaccinating.
What we need from you:
If your child was included in the SCID programme, you will need to provide a letter that confirms the negative result of screening.
If your child was born outside of the programme areas and therefore, not included in the SCID programme, we will need to see a letter confirming this.
In either case, please bring the letter with you to your appointment, as well as your child’s vaccination book.
Nb. If your child was born before 1st September 2021, before the programme was introduced, no letter will be needed.
For more information on:
Other Childhood Vaccinations
Parents are being urged to get their children vaccinated for measles, mumps and rubella following outbreaks of measles across Europe:
Anyone who is eligible to get vaccinated should get the MMR vaccine.
A measles outbreak across Europe has left UK officials urging parents to get their children vaccinated for measles, mumps and rubella. As measles is highly infectious, anyone who has not received 2 doses of the MMR vaccine is at risk. Particularly those unvaccinated people travelling to countries where there are currently large outbreaks of measles.
In the first three months of this year, there have been 231 confirmed cases of measles and 795 of mumps. While Public Health England (PHE) figures showed while measles cases were lower than the 265 reported during the same period last year, they had more than doubled compared to the 97 reported between October and December. The number of mumps cases has nearly tripled compared to the 275 cases during the first three months of 2018. No new cases of rubella have been reported.
PHE has now appealed to parents to make sure their children receive the MMR vaccine when it’s offered, or to get a GP appointment booked if they missed it. Officials have also warned that not only is measles highly contagious, but it can also kill a child if they are not vaccinated. Anyone who has not received two doses of MMR vaccine is at risk of measles as it is highly contagious.
There have been 3,789 cases of measles in Europe during the first three months of this year, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. The highest numbers were in Romania, France, Poland and Lithuania.
Advice for travellers
For all those planning to travel to Europe, make sure you are up-to-date with all currently recommended UK vaccines. This includes two doses of the MMR vaccine for protection against measles, mumps and rubella.
Anyone who is not sure if they are protected should check with their GP practice. Vaccination is usually done within your childhood vaccinations. However, the MMR vaccine is available to all adults and children who have not had their two-dose course. In some cases, the MMR vaccine can be offered to babies from six months of age. Cases such as travelling to countries where measles is common, or during an outbreak situation. Book a travel consultation with our travel nurse for advice on the best option for your children before you travel.
Head of immunisation at PHE, Dr Mary Ramsay, warned with measles outbreaks across parts of Europe, families should make sure they are vaccinated before travelling. ‘There are measles outbreaks happening across Europe so if you are planning to travel, make sure you check with your GP and catch-up if needed.’
Measles elimination can only be sustained by maintaining and improving coverage of MMR vaccine in children, and by using all opportunities to catch up older children and adults who missed getting the MMR vaccine.
To achieve herd immunity for measles at least 90 to 95 per cent of the population needs to be fully protected. PHE said 94.9 per cent of eligible children aged five received their first dose of MMR in quarter 4 of 2018. However, the second dose of protection falls to 87.4 per cent for children aged five.
Fleet Street Clinic’s medical director, Dr Richard Dawood explains, ‘When the rate of vaccination in the general population falls below 95%, outbreaks occur and can easily spread, with the highest impact on those most vulnerable populations, undermining years of hard work around the world to bring measles under control.’
Vaccination against Measles, Mumps & Rubella
One dose of the MMR vaccine is about 90 to 95 per cent effective at preventing measles. Protection rises to around 99 per cent after the second dose. Two doses of MMR in a lifetime are needed for a person to be considered fully protected.
The MMR vaccine schedule:
- Two doses, to be given at least 4 weeks apart.
- If the first dose is given before 12 months of age (due to the need for early protection), this should be discounted and the child should continue to receive 2 doses as per the normal schedule.
- The vaccine is also available to all adults and children who are not up-to-date with their 2 doses.
Anyone who is not sure if they are fully vaccinated should check with their GP.
You can book all vaccination appointments online.
Recent media reports have raised awareness of the effects of Meningitis B and the importance of the meningitis vaccine (if your child is aged under 12 months, the vaccine still readily available via your NHS doctor). Less well-known is the fact that there are different strains of Meningitis, with different vaccines protecting against them. Some of the recent cases reported in the media have actually been caused by Meningitis W or Meningitis C rather than the B strain, and it is important to know that vaccine protection is still widely available against those strains.
Strains and Meningitis Vaccines:
- Meningitis B: the protective single-strain meningitis B vaccine is Bexsero
- Meningitis A C W Y: the 4-strain vaccines Menveo and Nimenrix offer protection.
Meningococcal Meningitis and its Symptoms
Meningococcal meningitis is a bacterial infection that causes inflammation of the protective membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord. It can affect people of any age, but those most commonly affected are children under 5, and teenagers and young adults heading off to university.
Initial symptoms may be similar to flu, progressing to:
- A high temperature/fever, with cold hands and feet
- Refusal to eat
- Floppy and unresponsive
- Rapid breathing
- Neck stiffness
- Bright light sensitivity
- Pale, blotchy skin, and a red rash that doesn’t fade when a glass is rolled over it
- Convulsions or seizures
Further information: https://www.meningitisnow.org/meningitis-explained/
The specialists at the Fleet Street Clinic recommend getting your children vaccinated not just against Meningitis B, but against Meningitis A,C,W & Y strains as well (the vaccine is currently available and in stock).
Meningitis B Vaccines Availability
We currently do have a limited supply of Meningitis B vaccine, available on a first come, first served basis. You can book a Meningitis B vaccination appointment online.