The NHS in Somerset is urging people to attend all regular vaccination appointments to prevent outbreaks of serious diseases and reduce pressure on the health service.

The NHS is continuing to help people to manage illness linked to coronavirus but is still urging parents to bring children forward for lifesaving jabs to stop killer diseases like measles and mumps.

With many people expressing concern and even fear about seeking help during the virus emergency, the NHS is running a nationwide campaign to encourage people to come forward for help when they need it.

Essential, routine vaccinations like the MMR jab can save a child’s life and are available through family doctors. As long as those attending appointments, including parents of babies or children, do not have symptoms or are not self-isolating because someone in the household is displaying symptoms, all scheduled vaccinations should go ahead as normal.

Dr Kate Staveley, a GP in Chard and Associate Clinical Director for Women and Children’s Health at Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group, has the following advice for parents

“We want to reassure parents in Somerset that GP surgeries have been re-arranged in a way that prioritises you and your children’s safety, you won’t be expected to sit in a waiting room with other people for example.

“It’s really important that babies, children and pregnant women receive their routine immunisations where they can. They provide essential protection against potentially life-threatening diseases.

“Your GP is still here for you in Somerset, so if you’ve received your appointment letter, but you are anxious about coming in, please ring us and we can talk you through the measures we have put in place to keep you safe.”

The national immunisation programme is highly successful in reducing the number of serious and sometimes life-threatening diseases such as whooping cough, diphtheria and measles.

If individuals or members of a household need advice from a GP practice about symptoms not related to coronavirus, they should contact the practice online or by phone to be assessed.

Parents are advised to do this if their children have symptoms of scarlet fever as we reach the peak season between late March and mid-April. Symptoms of this include a rash, sore throat, headache and fever.

Scarlet fever mainly infects children and is most common between the ages of 2 and 8 years. It was once a very dangerous infection but has now become much less serious, with antibiotic treatment now available to minimise the risk of complications. However, there is currently no vaccine.

A full list of vaccinations and when they are available, for children and adults, is accessible through the NHS website: https://www.england.nhs.uk/2020/05/nhs-urges-public-to-get-essential-vaccines-despite-coronavirus-outbreak/