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Hepatitis, measles and meningitis ‘on the rise’ in Greater Manchester with fewer parents vaccinating children

The Salford Health Protection Board are looking at ways they can better prevent outbreaks by working with local partners.

A rise in a number of viruses has been listed as an emerging threat to public health in Salford and Greater Manchester where fewer parents are choosing to vaccinate their children, a health board has heard.

Polio, measles, hepatitis, flu and meningitis as well as other viruses we cannot vaccinate against such as scarlet fever are all rising, the Health and Wellbeing Board was told on 10 May. 

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While a number of these recognised threats to health are being handled on a national scale by the NHS, the Salford Health Protection Board are looking at ways they can better prevent outbreaks by working with local partners.

Deputy director of public health for Salford Gillian Mclauchlan explained that the public health team are in communication with the University of Salford and the colleges in the city, where meningitis is most likely to spread, in order to promote vaccination.

“Covid testing has more or less ceased,” Ms Mclauchlan told the board. 

“We have developed an early warning system. That is updated on a weekly basis and we are currently measuring outbreaks in certain settings.”

The Immunisation Improvement Group is also looking to promote uptake in the area for five to 11-year-olds. Communications have also been made with primary care providers such as GP practices to help build up community vaccination clinics.

Vaccination uptake is a big topic for public health in Salford at the moment with some people seeming less keen to get preventative jabs post-pandemic.

Deputy mayor John Merry believes that more needs to be done to improve the knowledge in the community around vaccination. His concern was that the message over wider vaccination, not just Covid-19, is not getting across to the public.

Six per cent of children aged between five and 11 have received the first vaccine in Bristol

“I think we need to do a wellbeing campaign on childhood vaccination in particular,” Coun Merry said. “I don’t think people understand how important vaccination is.

“I think we need to get that across in more simple terms. Councillors can play a key part in this as well.”

Coun Merry said vaccination played a key part in eradicating nasty viruses and does not want to see them re-emerge due to a lack of knowledge in the public.

Dr Tom Tasker, who co-chairs the Health and Wellbeing Board alongside Coun Merry, agreed with this point and explained that his practice is seeing more parents opting out of vaccination their children against a multitude of viruses since the pandemic started. 

“I think this is an important point on childhood immunisation,” Dr Tasker said. “In our GP practice we are seeing more people choosing not to vaccinate their children.”