One million children and teenagers to get measles jab amid fears of English outbreaks

One million children and teenagers to get measles jab amid fears of English outbreaks
The 20million campaign follows a big rise in cases in south WalesMany affected missed out on vaccination in late 1990s and early 2000s587 confirmed measles cases in England in first three months of 2013That's more than three times the 168 cases in
the same period of 2012

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Vaccinations: Figures show there were 587 confirmed measles cases in England in the first three months of this year, more than three times the 168 cases in the same period of 2012

Many of those affected are teenagers
who missed out on vaccination in the late 1990s and early 2000s when
parents were concerned about a link between MMR and autism that has
since been discredited.

Figures from Public Health England
(PHE) show there were 587 confirmed measles cases in England in the
first three months of this year, more than three times the 168 cases in
the same period of 2012. The highest number of cases is among ten to
16-year-olds.

Experts predict England’s total this year will exceed the 1,920 cases confirmed in 2012 unless action is taken.

Professor David Salisbury, director of
immunisation at the Department of Health, said: ‘The situation in
Swansea, I believe, is a wake-up call for parents – for parents who for
whatever reason, quite a few years ago, chose not to vaccinate their
children and for whom these days vaccines aren’t really things that they
think about very much.’

He added: ‘You have to prevent measles
and that means we need to get ahead before we have got large numbers of
cases and large outbreaks occurring in England.’

Protection: The 20million campaign follows a big rise in cases in south Wales, where public health officials have been running clinics to increase protection rates (file picture)

Protection: The 20million campaign follows a big rise in cases in south Wales, where public health officials have been running clinics to increase protection rates (file picture)

He said the country faced a potential
national health emergency without a catch-up campaign that will be
carried out by GPs, schools and community programmes until September.

Around one third of a million ten to 16-year-olds who are not already vaccinated will be the ‘first priority’.

'The situation in Swansea, I believe, is a wake-up call for parents'

Prof David Salisbury, Dept of Health

A further third of a million children
in this age group need at least one more MMR jab to give them full
protection, along with a similar number above and below this age range.

Dr Mary Ramsay, PHE head of
immunisation, said there was particular concern about potential measles
outbreaks in London, the South and East of England where MMR vaccination
rates were historically lower than in the North.

She said older children not vaccinated
as toddlers could ‘spread infection very effectively’, adding: ‘Measles
is not a mild illness. It is very unpleasant and can lead to serious
complications … with more than 100 children in England being
hospitalised so far this year.’