Falling Vaccination Rates: The Case of the MMR Jab

This House of Lords Library Briefing focuses on the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) jab. It looks at social media’s role in the spread of misinformation, what the UK Government and social media companies have pledged to do about it, and what other countries are doing to solve declining rates of MMR vaccination.

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In recent years vaccination rates have declined both domestically and internationally. The World Health Organisation has listed vaccine hesitancy as one of its ten threats to global health.

This briefing focuses on falling rates for the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine. Cases of measles worldwide have increased in recent years. Four out of the six world regions experienced a significant measles outbreak in 2018, while the UK recently lost its measles-free status.

Misinformation about the risks of vaccination remain a major factor in declining MMR vaccination rates. The Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, has previously criticised social media companies over the spread of misinformation on their platforms. Some social media companies, including Facebook, have announced plans to tackle the spread of vaccine misinformation. Other reasons found for vaccine hesitancy include difficulty accessing vaccination services, a complacency about the risks of measles and the perceived cost of vaccinations.

In August 2019, the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, announced a series of measures to increase vaccination rates. These included urging GPs to write to patients promoting catch-up MMR vaccination programmes and the strengthening of local immunisation coordinators. The Conservative Party manifesto for the 2019 general election also promised a national vaccination strategy to tackle declining MMR rates.

  • Lords Research Briefing LLN-2020-0033
  • Author: Philip Lewis
  • Topics: Health

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