A national catch-up programme to increase MMR vaccination uptake in children and teenagers was announced today (Thursday 25 April) by Public Health England, NHS England and the Department of Health. The aim is to vaccinate as many unvaccinated and partially vaccinated 10-16 year olds as possible in time for the next school year.
There were no cases of measles in Calderdale January to March 2013. As part of the campaign, the Councils public health team is writing to parents with unimmunised children. If your child has not had the MMR vaccination, or the second booster, please contact your GP and make an appointment. Further advice and information is available at NHS – Measles(external link)|
The uptake of the MMR vaccination in Calderdale has been improving over the last few years and is currently over 90% for children aged 5 years.
Paul Butcher, Interim Director for Public Health in Calderdale, said:
“Measles is an unpleasant illness which starts with a few days of cold-like symptoms and is then followed by a rash accompanied by high fever, red eyes and a cough. It can be particularly severe in babies under the age of one year, teenagers and older people, especially those who have a weakened immune system. Around one in every 10 children who get measles is admitted to hospital. In rare cases, people can die from measles
“The only way to prevent measles outbreaks is to make sure there is good uptake of the MMR vaccine across all ages.
“In late 2012 there were a small number of cases of measles in the upper valley (12). We contacted parents and there was a 20 per cent increase in the uptake of MMR. We hope that the uptake in this current campaign will be higher given the national publicity surrounding measles. We had already planned to contact parents and raise awareness of this and the campaign is well underway. We would like to get the uptake rates above 95 per cent so please just get in touch with your GP if your child hasnt been vaccinated. If you have any questions, or are not sure if your child has had their immunisation or booster, your GP will have a record.”
Dr Hazel Carsley, clinical lead for children across Calderdale Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), which is the organisation responsible for commissioning healthcare services on behalf of people in Calderdale, said:
“In Calderdale, our uptake of MMR is good in young children as parents recognise the importance of this vaccination, but there are still some ‘at risk’ groups with lower rates of MMR uptake, including teenagers and young people.
“It is important that all parents check that their children have had two doses of the MMR vaccination, if they are aged over 3 years and 4 months – one dose doesn’t give full protection. It is particularly important for teenagers to be protected fully.
“GP practices within the CCGs are working closely with public health colleagues to raise awareness of the importance of this safe and effective vaccine in protecting children and young adults against not only measles, but also mumps and rubella.”
Councillor Tim Swift, Leader of Calderdale Council, said:
“Fortunately, there have been no cases of measles in Calderdale so far this year. The best way to keep all our children safe is for every child to be immunised, so please act now.”