Increasing measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine uptake in primary care

Measles cases in the UK have increased recently; putting at risk the health of children who are unvaccinated.[1] What can primary care teams do to boost measles (MMR) vaccine uptake? I discuss some actions that general practices can take in a recent comment in the British Medical Journal.

Implementing an effective vaccination programme within a general practice requires a multifaceted approach; combining clear leadership, comprehensive staff training, patient education, and meticulous record-keeping. The collective effort of the entire practice team is essential for its success. Assigning a dedicated team member to lead the vaccination programme ensures focused oversight. It is crucial that all staff are well-informed about the vaccination programme, including eligibility criteria and the benefits of vaccination for individuals, families, the NHS, and society. This knowledge can be enhanced through free online training.[2]

Developing a set of Frequently Asked Questions based on official sources like NHS England and the UKHSA, and training staff in effective communication strategies, are key steps in addressing patient concerns and misinformation. Accuracy of medical records is essential, especially in urban areas with high population mobility, to avoid unnecessary vaccination reminders. Regular audits and updating vaccine status during patient registration can help maintain record accuracy.[3]

Effective patient communication about the MMR vaccine’s benefits requires using multiple channels, including text messages, emails, and social media, as well as during consultations, to ensure impact. Practices should also consider the cultural and linguistic diversity of their patients, using appropriate materials and partnering with community organisations to enhance outreach.

Accessible clinics are also essential. Vaccination should be offered during routine appointments and through additional channels like mobile clinics or community centres. Monitoring vaccine uptake and actively following up unvaccinated patients through reminders can significantly improve vaccination rates.[4]

For patients vaccinated outside the practice, it is important to verify and record their vaccination status. Motivating staff with incentives to meet vaccination targets and collaborating with community groups can further improve vaccine uptake.


1. Bedford H, Elliman D. Measles rates are rising again. BMJ 2024; 384 :q259 doi:10.1136/bmj.q259

2. NHS England Immunisation e-learning programme.

3. Carter J, Mehrotra A, Knights F, Deal A, Crawshaw AF, Farah Y, Goldsmith LP, Wurie F, Ciftci Y, Majeed A, Hargreaves S. “We don’t routinely check vaccination background in adults”: a national qualitative study of barriers and facilitators to vaccine delivery and uptake in adult migrants through UK primary care. BMJ Open. 2022 Oct 10;12(10):e062894. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2022-062894.

4. Williams N, Woodward H, Majeed A, Saxena S. Primary care strategies to improve childhood immunisation uptake in developed countries: systematic review. JRSM Short Rep. 2011 Oct;2(10):81. doi: 10.1258/shorts.2011.011112.