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Rise in number of children having MMR jab

Latest figures show another increase in the number of children in England having the Measles, Mumps and Rubella vaccination — but take-up higher in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland
WebMD UK Health News
Medically Reviewed by Dr Sheena Meredith

30th November 2010 - The percentage of children in England who have had the Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccination rose during 2009-10 compared with the previous year, official figures show. However, the numbers are lower than in other parts of the UK.

The number of children having the MMR jab fell to a low of 79.9 in 2003-4 after a health scare which called into question the safety of the triple vaccine. Dr Andrew Wakefield’s suggestion of a link between the MMR vaccine and autism prompted some parents to refuse to have their children vaccinated or opt for single vaccines. Earlier this year Dr Wakefield was accused of serious professional misconduct by the General Medical Council and subsequently struck off.

By 2008-9 the percentage of children having the MMR jab by their second birthday had risen to 84.9%. The latest figures released by the NHS Information Centre show a further increase to 88.2%.

Below World Health Organisation target

Tim Straughan, NHS Information Centre Chief Executive, says in a statement: “Following the low in MMR vaccinations among children in England six years ago, the percentage of children now receiving this vaccine is continuing to climb, although it is still short of the World Health Organisation target of more than 95 per cent.”

It also puts England at the bottom of the UK league table for MMR take-up behind:

  • Scotland (93.7%)
  • Wales (92.2%)
  • Northern Ireland (92.2%)

Across the English regions the highest percentage of children having the MMR vaccination was in South Central Strategic Health Authority at 91.4%. The lowest percentage was in London Strategic Health Authority where the figure was 81.9%.

The report, NHS Immunisation Statistics, England 2009-10, says that the latest increase may be down to a number of factors, including more reliable statistics and the initiation of an MMR catch-up campaign.

The report also charts increases in the number of children in England being vaccinated against other diseases.

Meningitis C

92.7% of children completed a primary immunisation course by their first birthday; a rise from 91.2% in 2008-9. This compares to 95.9% in Wales, 97% in Scotland and 97.5% in Northern Ireland.

Diphtheria, Tetanus, Polio, Pertussis and Haemophilus influenzae type b (DTaP/IPV/Hib)

95.3% of children reaching their second birthday had completed primary immunisation courses against DTaP/IPV/Hib. The NHS Information Centre report says this exceeds the 95% target set by the World Health Organisation for the first time since figures were gathered in 2006-7.

The figure for England compares with 97.5% for Wales, 98.4% in Scotland and 98.5% in Northern Ireland.

Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine (PCV)

92.9% of children aged 12 months had completed a primary course of PCV compared to 91.3% in 2008-9.

This compares to 96% in Wales, 97.2% in Scotland and 97.5% in Northern Ireland.

Reviewed on November 29, 2010

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