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Tuesday 25th October 2016

Measles cases on the rise

20th June 2006

20062006_measles1.jpgIn the first five months of this year, there were 449 confirmed cases of measles in England and Wales, the highest number of cases for 20 years. This represents the biggest outbreak since the triple MMR injection was introduced in 1988 and arises at a time when MMR immunisation rates are in rapid decline.

Significant outbreaks of the disease have occured in Surrey and Sussex and South Yorkshire. In April, a 13 year old boy died in Manchester, the first measles fatality for 14 years.

Opposition MPs blamed the rise on ministers' refusal to consider single vaccinations and Tony Blair's reluctance to reveal whether or not his son Leo had been vaccinated. However, both sides of the political divide agree that it would be better "if everyone understood the MMR jab was safe and accepted immunisation for their children."

Critics have accused the government of using one scare to counter another. "Fears about a possible link between MMR and autism have deterred parents from getting their children vaccinated. Now, warnings about the danger of measles were being used to bolster immunisation rates."

The 449 confirmed cases of measles so far this year needs to be set in context. In 1987, the year before the MMR jab was introduced, there were 86,000 reported cases of measles and in the 1960s, the incidence of the disease fluctuated between 160,000 and 800,000 cases each year.


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