MMR jabs for a million children

A million children who missed out on getting the MMR vaccine in England are being targeted in a campaign to raise the level of protection against measles after an outbreak in Wales. 2013 is set to be the worst year for measles outbreaks in 20 years

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Children at private schools 'most at risk' from measles

A measles outbreak has hit the UK.
A measles outbreak has hit the UK. Credit: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Children at private schools face the greatest risk from the measles outbreak and could pose a health threat to the rest of the population, a leading doctor has warned.

Professor John Ashton said Britain's 600,000 privately-educated children were at much greater risk of infection than those in the state sector.

Prof Ashton said a mix of large numbers of middle-class children who were not vaccinated against measles following the Wakefield scare in the 1990s, along with pupils from overseas with unknown health records, meant schools could become "reservoirs of disease", the Daily Telegraph said.

He said the risk was similar to that from groups such as gypsies and travellers, who have previously spread the disease.

Prof Ashton, who will soon become president of the Faculty of Public Health, said: "You've got a lot of middle-class, well-off parents, large numbers of whom did not have their children immunised because of the Wakefield scare - which was a very middle-class phenomenon.

"Layered on top of that you have got a lot of children from abroad, especially from the Far East, from countries such as Hong Kong and China, and there are few checks being done to establish their immunisation records."

Read: Campaign launched to immunise one million children

Read: Q&A: What is measles and how is it treated?

Campaign launched to immunise one million children

Health officials in England have launched a campaign to immunise a million children, aged between 10 and 16, with the MMR vaccine following an outbreak in Wales. They warned further measles outbreaks could occur 'anywhere'.

Special clinics are being set up in schools and GP surgeries at a cost of £20 million. There's already been a worrying rise in cases in the north-east and north-west.

Medical Editor Lawrence McGinty reports:

Read Lawrence's blog: No measles emergency yet, but medics want to prevent one

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Teeside children get vaccinated amid measles outbreak

Secondary school children have rolled up their sleeves to receive the MMR jab in Teesside, one of the areas worst affected by the measles outbreak.

Around 70 children, more than 10 percent of the pupils at All Saints School in Ingleby Barwick, received the jab in the dinner hall after their parents consented.

Lucy Butler,15, prepares to have her measles jab at All Saints School in Ingleby Barwick, Teesside. Credit: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Professor Peter Kelly, chairman of the Tees Outbreak Control Team, said there were 186 confirmed cases on Teesside since the new year, with a similar number suspected.

"It's quite a serious problem on Teesside," he said. "We have been aware of it since it started in mid-January and we have been working with our GP colleagues."We wrote to parents six or seven weeks ago to advise them to take their children, if they weren't vaccinated, to the GPs.

"We felt the extra step of coming to schools would give us that really comprehensive coverage of children we need to catch."There is a myth that it is just a childhood illness. People can be very poorly with measles and there can be some very serious complications."

Tyne Tees

Measles vaccinations start in Teesside schools

A school based measles vaccination programme has started in schools across Teesside, after the number of cases increased again.

There have been 150 confirmed cases of measles in the North East since the recent outbreak.

Almost all the reported cases are on Teesside, with just three in County Durham and none in Newcastle or Gateshead.

The NHS is advising people to contact their GP about vaccinating their children, or to take advantage of the schools programmes.

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Wales

Public Health Wales: Get MMR vaccine before exams

Public Health Wales is urging young people to get the MMR vaccination before the start of their exams.

The increase of cases shows that the outbreak is not easing up, especially in the 10 to 18 year old age group.

Young people have important examinations coming up and we need to make sure that those aged between 10 and 18 are vaccinated so their preparation for these examinations are not affected.

Vaccination sessions are continuing in schools throughout Wales and I urge pupils and their parents to take advantage of these.

We have seen that measles can be potentially fatal and no one should be complacent about the severity of measles. It can kill but can be prevented by a simple, safe vaccine.

– Dr Marion Lyons, Director of Health Protection for Public Health Wales
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