PHARMACIES in the North West will be the first in the country to pilot a new MMR vaccine offer.

Children aged five to 11 who have missed doses of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine will be able to get vaccinated at a pharmacy for first time due to a new initiative being trialled in the North West.

A small number of pharmacies across the region are the first in the country to take part in the pilot to support a national call and recall of under-vaccinated children and help increase MMR vaccines.

Uptake of both doses of vaccine, which is usually given to children aged one and then a second vaccine at around three years and four months, is 85.2% in the North West – and lower than 80% in some areas – which like many parts of the country is significantly lower than the World Health Organisation target of 95% coverage with two doses of MMR vaccine by five years.

Tricia Spedding, Regional Deputy Head of Public Health for NHS England – North West, said: “Measles is a highly infectious illness – complications can be life changing with dangers including blindness, deafness and swelling of the brain.

"Children who have not yet had both doses of the MMR vaccination are at risk of catching this very serious but completely preventable disease.

“By offering the MMR vaccine in pharmacies to children who missed one or both doses , we are hoping to make it easier and more convenient for parents to get their children protected.”

Parents of five to 11 year olds who are overdue one or both doses of MMR will be able to just walk in, with no appointment needed, although there may be a short wait if the pharmacist is busy. GP practices will also be able to refer patients for MMR vaccination in a pharmacy.

There are currently 28 participating pharmacies in the North West – 13 in Lancashire & South Cumbria and 14 in Cheshire & Merseyside. The scheme will be further rolled out to a small number of pharmacies in Greater Manchester in the near future.

A list of participating pharmacies can be found here: NHS England — North West » Measles and MMR vaccines.