Measles outbreak finally contained

MMR vaccine
MMR vaccine

HEALTH chiefs say last year’s worrying measles outbreak is now being brought under control as the MMR catch-up programme continues at pace.

In St Helens, there were just two confirmed cases in the first six months of this year - in January and March - compared to 13 in the same period in 2012.

But, as part of the catch-up programme, NHS GPs are still offering catch-up vaccinations to teenagers who missed out on their first or second childhood MMR.

This is crucial for teenagers and young adults - especially those starting work or for women thinking of starting a family.

The aim is to offer MMR to as many 10-16 year olds as possible who missed out on one or two doses, and to get to 95% protection in teenagers.

The campaign is run jointly by Public Health England (PHE), NHS England, the Department of Health, local authorities and primary care.

Dr Sam Ghebrehewet, the health protection lead for PHE Cheshire and Merseyside, said: “While it’s too early to say the MMR catch-up campaign is responsible for the declining number of measles cases, we can say definitively that children who have not had the MMR vaccine remain at high risk of catching the disease.

“We are making good progress towards the 95 per cent target, but there still remains a number of 10-16 year olds within the area, together with some younger children and adults who remain under-vaccinated.

“We’d urge parents of children, and teenagers themselves, who haven’t had the MMR vaccine to get them vaccinated.

“The whole measles story shows us how important childhood vaccination programmes are. Every parent needs to make sure that children are offered all their childhood vaccines.”