Alan Higgins is urging parents who have not yet had their children vaccinated and young adults who missed out on their vaccinations to contact their GP to arrange their MMR vaccinations as soon as possible.
The move is part of a new national campaign aimed at getting as many 10-16 year olds as possible vaccinated before the next school year. New figures show that measles cases nationwide are at their highest level for 18 years with almost 2,000 cases during 2012 and 159 in Greater Manchester alone.
There have been no confirmed cases of measles in Oldham this year and only one last year: the lowest rates in Greater Manchester. However, the recent outbreak in Swansea, where more than 900 cases have been confirmed since November, shows that measles is still a problem.
Parents can ensure their children and teenagers are fully protected against measles, mumps and rubella with two doses of the MMR vaccine. Most children get the first dose of MMR at 13 months old and the second dose is offered to children when they reach 3 years and 4 months. The two doses together offer almost complete protection from the disease.
Over the last two years more than 95 per cent of Oldham children have been given the MMR vaccine. However, following the coverage of the now discredited link between MMR and Autism in the late 1990s take-up of vaccinations was lower at around 80 per cent. We are now encouraging any parents and young people who missed out on their vaccinations to speak to their GP.
Alan Higgins, Oldham’s Director of Public Health, said, “Oldham has a good take-up rate of the MMR vaccination at present but there is an historical problem. In the late 1990s and early 2000s many parents had concerns about what is a now discredited link between MMR and autism. As a result the take-up of vaccinations then was lower and, given the recent outbreak in Swansea, we’d like to encourage those parents who didn’t have their child vaccinated at the time to contact their GP to arrange for an MMR jab as soon as possible. Even if those children are now young adults it is not too late for them to be vaccinated.
“The key message to parents is that MMR is safe – it’s free and it can save lives.”
Parents and young adults wanting to know more about MMR should contact their GP or visit www.nhs.uk