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Parents urged to vaccinate children

27th May 2011

A sharp rise in measles during the first four months of this year has prompted a warning to parents to get their children vaccinated.

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Cases have risen tenfold with the Health Protection Agency reporting 334 cases compared with 33 in the similar period last year.

The outbreak is thought to be linked to an epidemic in France, where 7,000 cases have been reported since January.

The HPA says new cases are mainly among unvaccinated people under 25 and centred on clusters in universities, schools or families or associated with travel abroad.

Most cases are in London and the South East, with 104 and 102 confirmed cases respectively in the first quarter of this year.

The HPA recently issued a warning to primary schools and further education colleges in London warning of the risks of taking children who are not fully immunised to mainland Europe.

Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunisation at the Health Protection Agency, said: “Although MMR coverage has improved over the last few years, we cannot stress enough that measles is serious and in some cases it can be fatal.

“Measles is a highly infectious and potentially dangerous illness which spreads very easily. Whether you stay here in the UK or travel abroad, it is crucial that individuals who may be at risk are fully immunised.”

MMR in the UK still short of the 95% uptake rate needed to stop the spread of the disease in the community. In December 2010, 89.4% of two-year-old children had received their first dose. For five-year-olds, the uptake rate is 92.8%.

 

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