Intended for healthcare professionals

Letters Rising measles rates

Increasing measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine uptake in primary care

BMJ 2024; 384 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.q552 (Published 05 March 2024) Cite this as: BMJ 2024;384:q552
  1. Azeem Majeed, professor of primary care and public health
  1. Department of Primary Care and Public Health, Imperial College London, London, UK
  1. a.majeed{at}imperial.ac.uk

Bedford and Elliman warn that measles cases are increasing, putting at risk the health of children who are unvaccinated.1 What can primary care teams do to boost measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine uptake?

Implementing an effective vaccination programme in a general practice requires a multifaceted approach combining clear leadership, comprehensive staff training, patient education, and meticulous record keeping. The collective effort of the practice team is essential for success. Assigning a team member to lead the vaccination programme ensures focused oversight. It is crucial that all staff are well informed about the programme, including eligibility criteria and the benefits of vaccination for individuals, families, the NHS, and society. This knowledge can be enhanced through free online training.2

Developing a set of frequently asked questions based on official sources like NHS England and the UK Health Security Agency and training staff in effective communication strategies are key steps in tackling patient concerns. Accuracy of medical records is essential, especially in areas with high population mobility, to avoid unnecessary vaccination reminders. Regular audits and updating of vaccine status during patient registration can help maintain record accuracy.3

Effective patient communication about the MMR vaccine’s benefits requires use of multiple channels, including text messages, emails, and social media, as well as during consultations, to ensure impact. Practices should consider the cultural and linguistic diversity of their patients, using appropriate materials and partnering with community organisations to enhance outreach.

Accessible clinics are also essential. Vaccination should be offered during routine appointments and through additional channels like mobile clinics or community centres. Monitoring vaccine uptake and actively following up unvaccinated patients can significantly improve vaccination rates.4

For patients vaccinated outside the practice, it is important to verify and record their vaccination status. Motivating staff with incentives to meet vaccination targets and collaborating with community groups can further improve uptake.

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