MEASLES IS ON RISE AS 30,000 MISS MMR JAB
MORE than 30,000 children in Greater Manchester have not received the MMR jab. The figures are taken from an analysis of the number of young people born since 2000 in the region, who haven’t had the first dose of the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine by the age of five.
It comes as Public Health England (PHE) reported a ‘national measles incident’, with a five-fold increase in measles cases reported in 2018.
Experts believe the disease is primarily affecting younger people who did not have the vaccine as a child due to unfounded health fears. Uptake fell heavily in 1998 after a study linked it to autism and bowel disease.
The study was widely discredited and the author, Andrew Wakefield, was eventually struck off as a doctor by the General Medical Council.
Between January 1 and August 23 this year, there have been 859 cases of measles in England – compared with 274 in 2017.
And NHS data shows a total of 32,400 children were not vaccinated across the ten boroughs of Greater Manchester.
Hotspots include Oldham, where 3,131 have not had the jab, and Wigan, where there are 3,175.
A much larger number of youngsters have not had both doses of the MMR vaccine by the age of five. There are more than 16,000 in Manchester, almost 7,000 in Oldham and more than 5,000 in Bolton and Wigan.
Measles is a highly infectious disease which can lead to serious complications and in some cases can be fatal.
There have been 48 deaths from measles across the European Union since 2016.
PHE is urging young people to get in contact with their GP to check if they have been vaccinated and get up to date if necessary.
Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunisation at PHE, said: “The measles outbreaks we are currently seeing in England are linked to ongoing large outbreaks in Europe.
“The majority of cases we are seeing are in teenagers and young adults who missed out on their MMR vaccine when they were children. Anyone who missed out on their MMR vaccine in the past or are unsure if they had two doses should contact their GP practice to catch up.
“This serves as an important reminder for parents to take up the offer of MMR vaccination for their children at one year of age and as a pre-school booster at three years and four months of age.
“The UK recently achieved World Health Organisation measles elimination status and so the overall risk of measles to the UK population is low, however, we will continue to see cases in unimmunised individuals and limited onward spread can occur in communities with low MMR coverage, and in age groups with very close mixing.”