Measles vaccine uptake at all time high on Merseyside

Nurse with needle
96% of children in Liverpool have had their first dose of MMR. Photo: Alexander F. Yuan/AP/Press Association Images

Parents are responding to the largest outbreak of measles on Merseyside since 1988 by having their children vaccinated.

The latest figures for Liverpool show that 96% of children have had their first dose of MMR vaccine by the age of two and nine children out of 10 have had the second dose by age five.

Dr. Roberto Vivancos, a consultant in communicable disease control with the HPA’s Cheshire and Merseyside Health Protection Unit (HPU) said: “The response by parents has been extremely encouraging and MMR uptake rates across Merseyside are now the highest they’ve ever been.

“This has been the largest outbreak of measles in the North West since the introduction of MMR vaccine 24 years ago and it has demonstrated just why this vaccine is so important in protecting the public health.

"Parents of young children clearly value the protection, security and peace of mind that MMR vaccine affords, but there remains a pool of older children, teenagers and young adults who are not vaccinated and remain vulnerable to measles, mumps and German measles.

“Our message to older teenagers and young adults is that if you were not vaccinated as children, it’s not too late for you.

"You should speak to your family doctor about MMR vaccine because without its protection you will remain vulnerable to three potentially very serious diseases.

"In addition to the current outbreak of measles in the Liverpool area, we have seen outbreaks of mumps in further education colleges and universities in recent years and if pregnant women should get German measles the consequences for the unborn child can be devastating.

“Our message to parents of unvaccinated younger children and teenagers is to speak to the family doctor and arrange to have them vaccinated now.”

The latest figures reveal that there have been 301 laboratory confirmed cases in Liverpool and surrounding districts since the beginning of January this year. A further 148 probable cases are under investigation.