Millions of children are at risk of contracting potentially lethal diseases as some vaccination rates in England have been falling for the past two years.
In some areas of the country, 1 in 10 children are not vaccinated against diseases such as polio and diphtheria. Experts have warned that unless uptake rates improve there is a risk of these diseases making a comeback.
Last year only a quarter of local authorities met World Health Organization targets to vaccinate 95% of children against measles, mumps and rubella.
A new draft quality standard from NICE, out for consultation until 29 September, has set out how to drive up the number of under 19s who receive vaccinations.
Professor Gillian Leng, deputy chief executive at NICE, said: “Around 3 million children and young people may have missed a mumps, measles and rubella (MMR) vaccine.
“With so many children open to exposure we are at risk of a serious outbreak. This variation in uptake across the country is unacceptable and we need to do more to ensure every child across the country gets the vaccinations they are supposed to. We now need peoples’ views to make sure we have set the right priorities to tackle this variation.
“Vaccinations don’t just protect the people receiving them – vaccination also protects all of us by eliminating infections from the country.”
The quality standard says that parents or carers of children who miss immunisation appointments should be followed up by telephone or with a text as this makes them more likely to rebook.
Young offenders are less likely to be immunised than young people who are not in contact with the criminal justice system.
The standard says that young offenders entering prison, or any other secure setting, should have their records checked for missed vaccinations.
Anyone under 19 who is found to have missed a vaccination in any setting should be offered one immediately or referred to a service that can provide them.
The standard also suggests that health visitors and nurses may be able to check if children had missed vaccinations during their usual reviews at the start school or college.