Parents still snubbing MMR jab

AN INVESTIGATION has been launched to find out why increasing numbers of children in north Essex are not having the MMR jab.

James Hore

AN INVESTIGATION has been launched to find out why increasing numbers of children in north Essex are not having the MMR jab.

The Government recommends 90% of children nationally receive the combined vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella by the time they are two - but the figure is just 75% in Colchester and 79% in Tendring. The national average is 84%.

Essex County Council has launched a joint investigation into the issue with the North East Essex Primary Care Trust (PCT).


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A meeting of the county council's East Essex Area forum on Monday will gather evidence from professionals in a bid to identify trends and low take-up areas.

GPs will also be giving their views on MMR and how the PCT can encourage greater take-up of the vaccination.

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Mick Page, area forum chairman, said: “We know experts have concluded that MMR has an excellent safety record so one of the areas we need to investigate is whether the low take-up is merely down to apathy or is still influenced by memories of the adverse publicity in the 1990s when it was linked to all sorts of health problems, including autism.

“We cannot be complacent about this and the announcement this month by the Department of Health that it was making extra vaccines and more funds available to help local health trusts vaccinate every child up to the age of 18 against measles is welcome news and will boost the work we began in Essex earlier this year.”

The forum wants to ensure there is not a repeat of what happened in Ireland in the late 1990s when take-up of MMR fell to 60% in some areas, resulting in a measles outbreak affecting 1,603 children and leading to three deaths.

Mike Gogarty, director of public health for the county council and PCT, said: “The MMR vaccine is a very safe vaccination with more than 500 million doses having been given in 90 countries over the last 30 years.

“I strongly encourage all parents to ensure that their children receive two doses of the MMR before starting school.”

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