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London at risk of measles outbreak

The capital has the lowest level of MMR vaccination take up in the country, and this puts it at particular risk of suffering a measles outbreak.

With the number of cases of the disease already rising, Public Health England are so concerned they're launching a catch-up vaccination programme.

They're particularly concerned about those aged 10-16 who may have missed out on the vaccine in the wake of the Andrew Wakefield scandal.

There have so far been 68 cases of measles in the capital so far this year- compared to just 137 for the whole of last year.


Schoolchildren risk 'effective spread' of measles

We have this legacy of older children who were not vaccinated as toddlers and these young people are now secondary school age. So they are now at the position where they can spread infection very effectively.

Our concern is that we have a potential for school outbreaks in many areas of the country - probably the areas most likely to be affected would be London and the South and East of the country where we know that the historical coverage was not as high as it was in the northern parts of the country.

– Dr Mary Ramsay, Public Health England

Campaign to prioritise those most at risk over measles

The campaign breaks down the million young people who will be offered the jab into three groups:

  • First priority will be the third of a million 10 to 16-year-olds who are totally unvaccinated
  • Second priority are the third of a million who need at least one further MMR jab to give them maximum protection
  • Third priority are the estimated third of a million children above and below this age group who need at least one further MMR vaccination

Surge in measles cases after low MMR vaccine uptake

The jump in the number of confirmed cases of measles has mainly been attributed to the number of 10 to 16-year-olds who missed out on vaccination in the late 1990s and early years of 2000.

At the time, there were fears of a link between autism and the MMR vaccine, which has since been discredited.

MMR injections Credit: ITV News

The MMR vaccine is offered to children when they are 12 to 13 months old giving 95% protection. A second dose is given at around three-and-a-half-years-old which boosts the level of protection to 99%.

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