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You are here: Home arrow News arrow October 2007 arrow MMR uptake falls short of target
MMR uptake falls short of target Print

October 2007

Uptake of MMR has still not reached levels needed to ensure immunity in the community despite growing confidence in the vaccine, NHS figures show.

The number of children receiving the vaccine fell after research - since discredited - suggested a link with between MMR and autism.

Latest statistics in England for 2006-7 show uptake has risen slightly to 85 per cent but is still short of the 95 per cent needed.

Health officials recently urged vaccination after a rise in measles.

The combined measles, mumps and rubella vaccine was linked to the behavioural disorder in a paper published in the Lancet medical journal in 1998.

Many studies done since have concluded the MMR vaccine is safe and The Lancet publicly announced it should never have printed the study by Dr Andrew Wakefield as it had a serious conflict of interest and was flawed.

Confidence has slowly been returning in the past few years. The NHS Information Centre said vaccine uptake in two-year olds went up by 1 per cent in 2006-7.

And all areas in England saw a rise although no primary care trust reported a rise of more than 90 per cent. Uptake is lowest in London at under 80 per cent - however officials said data collection in the capital had been problematic.

This summer, parents were warned to make sure their child received both doses of the vaccine after a high number of measles cases were reported.

The figures show only 73 per cent of five-year olds have received both their first and second MMR dose.

Last year, cases of measles, hit a 10-year high.

Tim Straughan, acting chief executive of The Information Centre said: "Whilst it is encouraging to see that uptake of the MMR vaccine has risen slightly for the third successive year, more needs to be done to ensure we meet the levels recommended by the World Health Organisation."

The Health Protection Agency said uptake in Scotland and Northern Ireland was doing better with latest figures showing 92 per cent coverage.

Professor Mike Catchpole, deputy director of the Centre for Infection said: "We are particularly pleased to see that two English regions - North East and East Midlands - have achieved 90 per cent coverage for MMR at 24 months."

But he added 596 cases had been reported this year as of 21st Sept. "It is important to remember that MMR is safe and effective and vital for children to be protected with two doses of the vaccine.

"Measles is a highly infectious and dangerous illness, and as there is increased close contact in schools, it can spread easily."

A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said they hoped to see the increases continue.

"About 19 out of every 20 children have completed their primary immunisations by one year of age.

"Research shows that parents' confidence in MMR vaccine is increasing, and this is usually a good indicator for future increases in vaccination uptake."

 
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