§ 36. Helen Jones
To ask the Secretary of State for Health what action he is taking to increase the take-up of immunisation among people from areas of multiple disadvantage. 
§ Ms Jowell
Annual immunisation rates are now at their highest ever levels, for example the uptake of three doses of diphtheria, tetanus and polio immunisation by age two in 1996–97 was 96 per cent. This has resulted in the reduction of childhood diseases to very low levels and reflects the hard work of doctors, nurses and other health professionals in dedicated immunisation teams across the country.
Immunisation uptake is influenced by many factors including the attitude of health care professionals, social deprivation, available information, ethnicity, the presence of older siblings, religious beliefs and media reporting. These factors interact in different ways and will vary between areas. We have a range of literature about immunisation for both parents and health professionals to assist in strategies to maintain the high uptake levels already achieved and improve those in lower uptake areas.
The national target for immunisation uptake is 95 per cent. A few health authorities (HAs) have significantly lower immunisation rates, achieving 86–89 per cent. uptake rates for diphtheria, tetanus and polio immunisation. Such HAs are targeted through the Department's performance management function, local action plans developed and progress monitored on a regular basis. The detail of these improvement strategies are necessarily decided at a local level as they will depend on the specific circumstances. Local immunisation co-ordinators work with primary care health professionals to achieve immunisation targets.