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50,000 'most at risk' children receive measles vaccination

More than 50,000 children in England who may have missed out on the measles vaccination because of fears surrounding the jab have now been vaccinated, health officials said.

Public Health England (PHE) said that 56,000 10 to 16-year-olds who were not vaccinated when they were young - at the height of the scare - have now received the first dose of the MMR immunisation.

Some parents did not allow their children to have the vaccine due to an unfounded link between the jab and autism during the 1990s.

Experts said that the 10 to 16 age group were at “most risk” of contracting the virus due to the fall in coverage of MMR - which protects against measles, mumps and rubella - that occurred when the discredited concerns were published.

While there has been much progress in getting more children vaccinated, PHE said that an additional 120,000 children in this age group needed to be vaccinated to ensure that 95% of children were covered.

Cases of measles in England are at their highest recorded levels since 1994, a spokeswoman said.

From January to May there were 1,168 confirmed cases of the virus compared with 712 for the same period in 2012.

There is a national catch-up vaccination campaign aimed at curbing a rise in measles cases in England.

“Measles is a highly infectious and unpleasant disease that can lead to very serious complications,” said PHE’s head of immunisation Dr Mary Ramsay.

“Children who have not had the MMR vaccine are at high risk of catching the disease.

“Thanks to the hard work of local health teams we are making good progress towards the 95% target, but there still remains a large number of 10 to 16-year-olds, together with many younger children and adults who are under-vaccinated.

“The programme will continue until we reach as many children as possible in the age groups most affected.

“If your child has not had the MMR vaccine, the upcoming summer holidays is a good time to contact your GP to get them vaccinated.”

Professor David Salisbury, director of immunisation at the Department of Health, added: “The best way to beat measles is to protect people before measles catches them.

“It’s encouraging that GPs have taken up the challenge wholeheartedly but we now need to make sure that all children at risk are vaccinated.

“The best thing that parents can do, if their children have not had two doses of MMR, is to make an appointment with the GP now.”

 

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