MMR uptake 'still not good enough'

UPTAKE of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccination is lower than Suffolk health bosses would like, according to new figures released.

Lizzie Parry

UPTAKE of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccination is lower than Suffolk health bosses would like, according to new figures released.

The number of children being vaccinated against the disease is still lower than levels needed to adequately protect the population, according to NHS East of England.

In the first five months of this year alone there have been 45 confirmed cases of measles in the East Anglia, according to figures from the Health Protection Agency.

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In Suffolk both at ages two and five the percentage of children being immunised for MMR is above both the national and regional averages.

In the county 86.6% of two-year-olds are immunised compared to 85.6% in England and 85.6% in the East of England.

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For five-year-olds in Suffolk 82.1% of the age group are vaccinated compared to 80% in England and 80.1% in the eastern region.

But Brian Keeble, NHS Suffolk's immunisation co-ordinator, said uptake was still lower than the ideal level.

“While uptake in the NHS Suffolk region at five years of the measles vaccination is lower than we'd like, it is above the regional and national average,” he said.

“We would like to remind parents that it's important they ensure their children are protected against this unpleasant and potentially dangerous disease.”

A new measles awareness campaign, launched by the Department of Health, has been launched and a road show will visit Ipswich on Friday.

The Is Your Child Safe? campaign is visiting 12 hotspots across the country to give parents the opportunity to talk with health professionals and get the facts on measles and other childhood illnesses, including tips on how to prevent them.

Across England recent findings estimate over two million children are at risk from the disease because they have missed either their first or second MMR vaccination.

Though preventable, measles is a highly infectious disease and can cause other health complications.

It spreads very easily and as a result 95% of the population needs to be vaccinated to prevent outbreaks.

Serious complications include deafness, meningitis or brain damage, and around one in 15 children are at risk of developing these additional illnesses. One in 5,000 who contracts measles will die.

Identified as an at-risk area Ipswich will be one of the 12 towns and cities on the road show route, along with Liverpool, Warrington, Manchester, Brighton and Guildford.

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