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  1. ITV Report

Thousands of children in the North West at 'unnecessary risk of serious diseases'

Thousands of children are set to start primary school without their up to date vaccinations. Credit: PA

According to Public Health England, thousands of four and five-year-olds in the North West are at "unnecessary risk of serious diseases" because they aren't up-to-date with their MMR vaccinations.

4000
Estimated number of children in the North West missing their first dose of MMR.
9000
Estimated number of children missing their second dose of MMR.

In the UK dose 1 of the MMR vaccination protects against Measles, Mumps and Rubella and is usually given to children at around 12 months old.

The second dose is given just before children start school to ensure the best protection from the diseases. Two doses of MMR in a lifetime are needed for a person to be considered fully protected.

In the first quarter of 2019 there were 231 cases of measles confirmed in the UK. As the disease is highly infectious, anyone who has not received 2 doses of the vaccine is at risk.

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Angela Hardman, Deputy Director Health Protection at Public Health England North West, said:

It’s a real concern that so many young children could be starting school without the full protection that the NHS childhood immunisation programme offers for free. We know that parents want the best protection for their children and so many may be unaware that their child is not up-to-date. We’re urging all parents of primary school starters to check their child’s Red Book now to make sure there is a record of two MMR doses and the 4-in-1 booster vaccine. If not, parents should contact their GP practice to arrange any further vaccinations that are needed.

We’re particularly concerned about children being at greater risk of measles. We’re continuing to see outbreaks of the disease occurring in communities across the country, many linked to visiting European countries over the summer holidays. The vast majority of those affected are not fully immunised and vaccine preventable diseases spread more easily in schools. It’s crucial that children have maximum protection as they begin to mix with other children at the start of their school journey.

We often think that these diseases are confined to the past, but the World Health Organisation has recently confirmed that measles is no longer eliminated in England. Whilst tetanus and polio are still rare thanks to the success of the NHS childhood immunisation programme, over the past few years we’ve also seen cases of whooping cough and diphtheria in school-aged children.”

– Angela Hardman, Deputy Director Health Protection at Public Health England North West

To check if their child has received all their vaccines, parents are advised to go to https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinations/nhs-vaccinations-and-when-to-have-them/ and refer to their child’s 'Red Book'.