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Measles and mumps danger for children

Just 70% of Islington five-year-olds have received the full two doses of the MMR jab

04 December, 2020 — By Calum Fraser

HEALTH chiefs have warned parents that children are being put at risk as almost a third of youngsters are not receiving the full MMR vaccine in Islington.

Parents should be reminded that measles, mumps and rubella (MMR viruses) are more harmful to children and babies than Covid-19, the council’s director of public health said.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends that 95 per cent of children should receive the full MMR immunisation by the time they are five in order to keep a lid on the deadly illnesses.

In Islington, however, only 70 per cent of five-year-olds have received the full two doses of the MMR jab, according to council data.

Speaking at the Town Hall’s health scrutiny committee meeting on Thursday, Clare Jeapes, a Labour councillor in the Canonbury ward, said: “People need to understand that these are really serious diseases.

“I know we have Covid, but in a way this could be worse.”

Jonathan O’Sullivan, who is the interim director of public health, said: “You are absolutely right to say that in chil­dren and young people measles and mumps, and rubella to the unborn child, is far more of a risk even today than Covid would be, because mercifully Covid has very little impact on young people. That’s something we need to continually remind people.”

He added: “We work closely with health visitors and school nurses so they can respond to questions and concerns parents have.

“People still worry about MMR because of all that Andrew Wakefield stuff from the 1990s. It’s actually probably the most expensively researched vaccination out of any of the vaccines in terms of safety because of all of that.”

Mr Wakefield falsely claimed in the 1990s that there was a link between the MMR vaccine and autism. Publicity around his 1998 study led to a sharp decline in vaccination uptake.

Nurulla Turan, the Town Hall’s health chief, said: “Levels of vaccina­tion at the age of five are well below the national target of 95 per cent recommended by the World Health Organisation.”

Across London the average uptake of the MMR jab is 76 per cent while across England it is 87 per cent.
Last year the UK lost its WHO “measles free” status due to the poor uptake of the MMR vaccine.


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