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MMR take-up all time high

WebMD UK Health News
Medically Reviewed by Dr Farah Ahmed

26th September 2013 - The number of children having the MMR jab in England is at its highest since the vaccination was launched in 1988.

The latest statistics show that 92.3% of children had the measles, mumps and rubella jab by the time they were 2 years old.

MMR fall and rise

The lowest recorded update of MMR was 79.9% between 2003 and 2004. Public confidence in the safety of the vaccine fell after a study wrongly linked MMR with autism. The discredited research was withdrawn by the medical journal that published it and one of the doctors involved in the report was struck off.

The fact that many children went unvaccinated during the scare has contributed to recent outbreaks of measles around the UK, including those around Swansea and on Merseyside.

Measles can lead to serious and permanent complications, including eye problems, deafness, brain damage or even death.

Special catch-up clinics have been held to get older children vaccinated.

Herd immunity

As well as protection for individual children, the higher the uptake in vaccination the more it means others get protection from what's called 'herd immunity'.

Although the latest figures are encouraging, they are still below the 95% target set by the World Health Organisation (WHO) for diseases such as diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis ( whooping cough), polio, Hib, measles, mumps and rubella.

These targets have been reached for DTap/IPV/Hib immunisation by age 1, meningitis C (MenC) immunisation by age 2 and Hib immunisation by age 5.

However, vaccination coverage in England was below that of other UK countries for all routine childhood vaccines measured at 1, 2 and 5 years.

Vital protection

In a statement commenting on the figures, Mary Ramsay, head of immunisation at Public Health England, says: "Routine vaccination in childhood is vital in protecting children from a range of infectious diseases, many of which have now been consigned to history.

"This is a good reminder to parents to ensure their child’s vaccinations are up-to-date, and, if not, to contact their GP."

Reviewed on September 26, 2013

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