Catch-up MMR programme to combat measles

Good uptake of the MMR vaccine is the only way to prevent measles outbreaks, says Dr Mike Lilley

Good uptake of the MMR vaccine is the only way to prevent measles outbreaks, says Dr Mike Lilley

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The Government has announced a £20m plan to immunise the reported one million schoolchildren who have not had the MMR vaccine, after the outbreak of measles in Wales.

The number of people reported as having the disease in England in the first three months of this year is almost 600, compared with 261 for the same period last year.

Northamptonshire has had no reported outbreaks and only two were reported last year.

In 2011-12, 88.5 per cent of children in the county had had both doses of the MMR vaccination by the time they were five.

This means about 980 children are not protected.

Doctors warn epidemics could break out anywhere after a generation of children missed the MMR, measles, mumps and rubella, jab when research, now discredited, linked it to autism.

The campaign will focus on children aged 10 to 16.

Measles causes a high fever and rash, and can lead to pneumonia and inflammation of the brain. It can prove fatal.

Dr Mike Lilley, of the South Midlands and Hertfordshire Public Health Centre, which covers Northamptonshire, said: “The only way to prevent measles outbreaks is to ensure good uptake of the MMR across all age groups.

“Parents of unvaccinated children, teenagers and young adults who have missed out on MMR should discuss this with their GP.”