ANNUAL uptake of childhood immunisations in Scotland remained high last year with just over 96% of children receiving the routine vaccinations in their first year, new figures show.

Latest statistics show 96.1% of babies received three doses of the six-in-one vaccine – which protects against diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, polio, haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) and hepatitis B – up from 95.9% in 2018.

Uptake of the rotavirus vaccine was slightly lower at 93.2%, with experts attributing this to the fact it must be given within a short time window.

Figures from the NHS National Services Scotland Information Services Division show the vast majority of children received their booster vaccines by the age of 24 months. More than nine in 10 received booster vaccines by that point, with 94.3% for Hib/Meningitis C, 94.4% for pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) and 93.5% for meningitis B.

For the MMR vaccine, which is first offered at 12 to 13 months, 94% of children had the first dose of MMR vaccine by age two.

This rose to 96.6% for children who reached the age of five last year.

Uptake of the second dose of MMR vaccine, which is given from the age of three years and four months, was 91.4% by the age of five, rising to 92.9% by age six.

Public health minister Joe FitzPatrick reminded all parents and carers to keep getting their children vaccinated during the coronavirus pandemic.

He said: “I am pleased to see that childhood immunisation rates across Scotland remain very high., reflecting both the hard work and commitment of our colleagues in the NHS and a recognition among parents and carers of the benefits of vaccination.

“I want to remind all parents and carers of the importance of getting their children vaccinated throughout the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak. Your GP or health board will still be available to do this and it is advised that you keep these appointments.”

The European region of the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends that on a national basis at least 95% of children are vaccinated against diseases preventable by immunisation and targeted for elimination or control.

The report found children from more deprived areas are less likely to take up the vaccines than children in the less deprived areas.

For children reaching 24 months in 2019, 81.7% received their first dose of MMR by 15 months of age in the most deprived areas compared with 91.0% in the least deprived areas.

Uptake of the six in one vaccine by 12 months in 2019 was 94.5% in the most deprived areas compared to 97.7% in the least deprived areas.

All measures of annual vaccine uptake at 12 months and the majority of vaccines measured at five years increased compared with 2018.

There was a slight decrease in vaccine uptake as measured at 24 months and at age six.