Measles vaccinations to increase in Bucks after Welsh outbreak

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The aim is to prevent measles outbreaks by vaccinating as many unvaccinated and partially vaccinated 10-16 year olds as possible in time for the next school year.

There were only two cases of measles in the last quarter in the Thames Valley but the longer term trend is one of increasing cases, Public Health England said.

In 2011, there were 24 cases and in 2012 there were 17 cases.

In Bucks there were two outbreaks recorded between October and December 2012.

The new programme follows a huge outbreak of measles in Wales.

The Government agency said the rise in cases can mostly be attributed to higher number of unprotected 10-16 year olds, who missed out on vaccination in the late 1990s and early 2000s because of the ‘discredited’ link between autism and the vaccine.

Dr James Mapstone, interim director for the Thames Valley Public Health England Centre, said: “Measles is a potentially fatal but entirely preventable disease. The catch-up programme set out today recommends an approach to specifically target those young people most at risk. Those who have not been vaccinated should urgently seek at least one dose of MMR vaccination which will give them 95 per cent protection against measles. A second dose is then needed to provide almost complete protection.

“The only way to prevent measles outbreaks is to ensure good uptake of the MMR across all age groups, and that when cases are reported, immediate public health action is taken to protect vulnerable individuals as soon as possible. Measles is not a mild illness - it is very unpleasant and can lead to serious complications as we have seen with more than 100 children in England being hospitalised so far this year.

“It is never too late to get vaccinated against measles. Parents of unvaccinated children, teenagers and young adults who have missed out on MMR should urgently arrange to be vaccinated by their GP. If you are unsure whether you or your child has had two doses of the vaccine, speak to your GP who will have a record.”