In response to the outbreak of Measles in Wales, NHS England has unveiled its plans to vaccinate in the ITV Meridian region. GPs in Dorset, Hampshire, Wiltshire and on the Isle of Wight will offer the MMR jab to 10 to 16 year olds who haven't previously had it.
Southampton's Public Health Director has welcomed the move to offer measles vaccinations to ten to sixteen year olds.
– Andrew Mortimore, Director of Public Health for Southampton
This is an excellent opportunity for parents to check to see if their children have had two doses of MMR. “Parents do not need to panic. GPs are getting extra stocks of vaccine to cope with the extra demand and we are expecting their practices to be able to contact those who require vaccination and offer them an appointment. This may vary from practice to practice. Although measles is in the public eye at the moment, MMR is a safe and effective vaccine against three common illnesses that are easily preventable.”
Southampton GPs will be taking part in a catch-up MMR (Measles, Mumps and Rubella) immunisation in the city, following the measles outbreak in South Wales. Currently there are NO cases of measles in Southampton.
The national programme is a preventative measure aimed at immunising those children and young people who missed out on their MMR vaccines in early childhood and is targeted at 10 to 16 year olds.
The vaccine will be offered to all people in this age group who have not been fully vaccinated (two doses). This will be orchestrated in a systematic, phased approach through local GP practices, over the next few weeks.
The number of cases of measles has reached its highest level for 18 years, health experts have said.
The majority of cases of the highly infectious disease have been recorded in Surrey, Sussex, and in Merseyside, as well as several smaller outbreaks.
There were 2,016 confirmed cases in England and Wales in 2012 - the highest since 1994, said the Health Protection Agency.
Symptoms include fever, cold symptoms, red eyes, sensitivity to light and greyish white spots in the mouth and throat. After a few days a red-brown spotty rash will appear.
People are protected against measles, mumps and rubella with the combine MMR vaccine - which is normally given as part of children's routine vaccinations.
The HPA said older children who were not vaccinated at the routine age, who may now be teenagers, are at particular risk of becoming exposed.
There are more and more children suffering from measles in Sussex.
So far this year, there have been 180 confirmed cases amongst children and adults in Brighton alone. Compare that with 86 in the rest of East Sussex, 38 in West Sussex, 21 in Kent , and in Essex just 6.
There has been 1 case in Oxfordshire, 5 in Berkshire and 9 in Surrey. There have been none in Buckinghamshire, Hampshire or the Isle of Wight.
The statistics are being blamed on the poor take-up of the MMR vaccine
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Figures released today show a huge increase in the number of adults and children being diagnosed with measles in Brighton.
Last year there were 65 cases compared with this year's figures of 180.
Further along the coast in Hampshire there have been no cases this year compared to 21 last year.
Confirmed measles cases for 2012 so far:
Berkshire – 5
Brighton & Hove – 180
Buckinghamshire – 0
East Sussex – 86
Hampshire PCT – 0
Isle of Wight PCT – 0
Kent – 21 (Eastern and Coastal Kent PCT +West Kent PCT)
Medway – 0
Oxfordshire – 1
Portsmouth City PCT – 0
Southampton PCT – 0
Surrey – 9
West Sussex – 38
Specialist drop-in clinics will open in Brighton and Hove today to try to control a major measles outbreak in the city.
The clinics will distribute the MMR vaccine. 160 people have been diagnosed with the virus in Brighton so far this year - that's more than double the number in 2011.
Childhood illnesses such as measles, whooping cough and mumps have made a worrying return to our region. The number of cases is on the increase. Health bosses believe it may be due to some parents deciding against the MMR jab in recent years.
Brighton and Hove has seen a thirteen fold increase in measles cases alone. Incidents of whooping cough have quadrupled and outbreaks of mumps have become common once more. Andrew Pate reports.