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Low MMR vaccine uptake prompts HPA measles epidemic warning

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Low uptake of the MMR vaccine has caused a 6% increase in cases of measles and prompted a warning of an epidemic from the HPA (Health Protection Agency).

In England and Wales there have been 1,049 confirmed cases of measles to the end of October.

Last year there were 990 cases over the whole 12 months, according to figures from the HPA.

London has the highest number of measles cases (626) followed by the North-West (106) and South-East regions (76).

‘This rise is due to relatively low MMR vaccine uptake over the past decade and there are now a large number of children who are not fully vaccinated,’ commented Dr Mary Ramsay, an immunisation expert at the HPA.

'There is now a real risk of a large measles epidemic,' she added.

She urged nurses to continue to remind parents of the benefits of MMR immunisation. In August, the Chief Medical Officer announced an MMR catch up programme to root out patients that had missed out on the vaccine.

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