More than a dozen babies in Bedford not vaccinated against potentially deadly illnesses

The six-in-one jab protects against six serious infections including polio, whooping cough and diphtheria

More than a dozen babies have missed out on potentially life-saving jabs in Bedford, despite the area meeting the World Health Organisation's recommended level for herd immunity.

The World Health Organisation recommends at least 95 per cent of newborns should get the six-in-one jab, which protects against six serious infections including polio, whooping cough and diphtheria.

In Bedford, 96.0 per cent of infants who had their first birthday between January and March have been vaccinated, according to Public Health England data.

The six-in-one jab protects against six serious infections including polio, whooping cough and diphtheria

This makes it one of just a few dozen areas in England to achieve this target – and means just 19 babies missed out.

​Immunisation rates have increased from the same period the year before, when 92.9 per cent of babies were vaccinated.

Across England, vaccination rates stood at 92.7 per cent between January and March 2020.

Dr Doug Brown, the group's chief executive, said: "We must do better to protect our children. Improving vaccine uptake is a complex issue, but one that we can solve.

"Initiatives such as strengthening the role of immunisation co-ordinators, ensuring services are accessible and widening services to go out into communities are all strategies that we know work.

“Additionally, engaging with parents to answer their questions and provide accurate information on vaccines is key to success.”

He added that he hopes the Government's long-awaited vaccine strategy, which was first announced last summer but is yet to be published, will tackle many of these issues.

The Department of Health and Social Care said some people may have felt unsafe taking their baby for their jabs during the coronavirus crisis, and that it is working to address this.

A spokeswoman said: “Every child must be vaccinated against dangerous and potentially fatal diseases and it’s vital that vaccinations are up-to-date.

“We are aware some parents may have felt uncomfortable accessing services during the peak of the pandemic.

“We are working with NHS England and Improvement and Public Health England to catch-up with those people who may have missed out on their vaccination as quickly and as safely as possible.”

Dr Brown added: “Throughout lockdown, immunisation services have been prioritised by GP surgeries to ensure that children continue to receive the essential protection that vaccination confers.

"If your child has missed one of their vaccinations, get in touch with your GP surgery and they can make a catch-up appointment for you. It’s never too late to protect your child from catching one of these nasty diseases.”