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MMR vaccine uptake reaches record high in Wales

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Uptake of the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine has reached its highest level in Wales in the wake of disease outbreaks in the country over recent years, latest figures show.

According to latest immunisation data published today by StatsWales, 93% of children who reached their fifth birthday during the year 2014-15 had received two doses of MMR.

Meanwhile, MMR coverage by second birthday had reached 95.8% across Wales. The highest rates were in Anglesey, where 98% of children have been vaccinated, and the lowest in Cardiff, where the rate was 93.4%.

The World Health Organization recommends 95% coverage to prevent the spread of measles.

For the year ending March 31, 2015 the latest vaccination figures also show:

  • More than 95% of children who reached their first birthday in the year had received their five-in-one immunisation, and were vaccinated against meningitis C and pneumococcal (PCV)
  • 98% of children who reached their second birthday in the year had received their five-in-one immunisation and 97% were immunised against meningitis C
  • Uptake of two doses of the new rotavirus vaccine in children reaching their first birthday was almost 84%

Uptake rates of MMR across the UK are still recovering following the drop in the early 2000s, following the publication of the now discredited claims about MMR by Andrew Wakefield.

The Swansea area was hit by an outbreak of measles in 2012-13, which was largely blamed on the fall in immunisation levels in the wake of the research scandal.

Despite the gradual recovery in uptake in recent years across the UK, figures published last week show the proportion of two-year-old children having the MMR vaccine has fallen in England for the first time in recent years.

The Health and Social Care Information Centre data showed that 92.3% of children in England had the jab in 2014-15.

Welsh health minister Mark Drakeford said: “Across Wales, parents have regained their confidence in the highly-effective MMR vaccine and these statistics show how far we have come.

“There is, however, no room for complacency and I hope to see us improve take-up further for all childhood vaccines next year,” he added.

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