Parents urged to back MMR jab

HEALTH bosses in Essex are urging parents to give their children the MMR vaccine after new research claimed there was no link between the jab and autism.

By Juliette Maxam

HEALTH bosses in Essex are urging parents to give their children the MMR vaccine after new research claimed there was no link between the jab and autism.

Colchester and Tendring Primary Care Trusts are backing the findings of the Medical Research Council study, published in The Lancet on Friday.

Researchers who carried out the study of more than 5,000 children across the UK found no link whatsoever between the MMR vaccination and autism.

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The announcement has come as the health trusts are preparing to launch a major MMR information and advice campaign to encourage parents to have their children vaccinated.

The PCTs are concerned that uptake of the MMR vaccine in Colchester and Tendring was 5-7% below the national average of 82% last year and there has been an increase in the number of cases of mumps in young adults over the last 12 months.

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The aim of the MMR campaign is to increase local uptake to ensure all children are protected from these diseases by reassuring parents about the safety of the vaccine.

Health workers and healthcare professionals are supporting the campaign, which is also working actively with the National Childbirth Trust and other organisations.

A new local information leaflet has been produced for parents of children from six months upwards and will be distributed by health visitors at the first childhood development check at eight months.

The leaflet will be widely distributed via GP practices, pharmacies, nurseries and other public outlets together with Department of Health posters and videos.

A new Colchester and Tendring Immunisation Support Service is being set up this autumn, a part of the campaign. It will be based at Cornerstone, in Sir Isaacs Walk, Colchester, and operate as a telephone and monthly drop-in for any parent that has any concerns on all children's vaccinations, including MMR.

Dr Mike Gogarty , Director of Public Health for Colchester and Tendring PCTs, said: "We welcome the findings of this study, which reinforces our belief that there is no evidence that autism is linked with MMR vaccine.

"We have been very concerned with the fall in MMR vaccination rates and the rise in mumps.  With only 77% of children in Colchester and 75% of children in Tendring vaccinated with MMR last year, there are still a large number of children unprotected against the three childhood diseases of measles, mumps and rubella.

"We hope the findings of the latest study and the information provided through our MMR campaign will convince parents of the need to ensure that their children are protected from these potentially dangerous diseases."

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