For the first year more than 95 per cent of Welsh babies have had their routine vaccines by the age of one. The national target was reached for the first time in 2006. The figure was published in a report on childhood vaccination by the NPHS.
By their first birthdays babies should have had a series of three vaccines to protect them from the life threatening diseases of whooping cough, polio, tetanus, diphtheria and one type of meningitis (Hib). This is known as the ?5 in 1?. In addition they should have been offered the MenC vaccine which protects against another type of meningitis.
Dr Richard Roberts, Consultant in Communicable Disease Control for the National Public Health Service for Wales said ?It is good news for public health that we have reached the 95 per cent target. These diseases can be very serious. In some cases they cause death. Since the introduction of vaccine programmes the cases of such illnesses have dropped dramatically saving countless lives.?
During the last quarter of 2006, the uptake of the MMR vaccine that toddlers get at 14 months to protect against measles, mumps and German measles (Rubella), was 88 per cent. The rate has been rising steadily over the last three years.
The Welsh levels compare with England which has just under 91 per cent of babies having their ?5 in 1? and MenC by age one and 85 per cent of toddlers having their MMR by age two.
Across Wales there is variation by Local Health Board area. The ?5 in 1? uptake percentages during October to December 2006 ranged from 93 per cent in Pembrokeshire to almost 99 per cent in Merthyr Tydfil. During the same period, uptake of the 1st dose of MMR varied from 81 per cent in Neath Port Talbot to 92 per cent in Torfaen and uptake of the 2nd dose of MMR in children aged 5 years ranged from 70 per cent in Neath Port Talbot to 85 per cent in Blaenau Gwent.
Dr Roberts said, ?This is positive for Wales on the whole but we need to work to improve rates in every area of Wales. Parents also need to be sure to bring their children for their booster vaccines to give them the best protection.?