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Government launches MMR catch-up vaccine drive

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The Department of Health has announced that it is launching an MMR catch-up campaign.

Chief medical officer for England Sir Liam Donaldson has told PCTs to offer MMR to all unvaccinated patients up to the age of 18. It follows a marked increase in measles cases.

In 2006 and 2007 there were 1,726 confirmed cases in England and Wales – more than the previous ten years put together. From 1996 to 2005 there was a total of 1,621 confirmed cases. It is estimated that around three million children aged 18 months to 18 years have missed either their first or second MMR vaccination.

Professor David Salisbury, director of immunisation at the Department of Health, said: ‘Parents who have not had their children vaccinated with the MMR vaccine should do so now.

‘The MMR vaccine coverage is not high enough to remove the threat of recurrence of measles outbreaks,’ he said. ‘Measles is serious and in some cases it can be fatal. Delaying immunisation puts children at risk.’

Dr Patricia Hamilton, president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said: ‘We cannot stress too strongly that all children and young people should have the MMR vaccine. Overwhelming scientific evidence shows that it is safe.’

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