Health leads urge parents to get children vaccinated as schools return

As schools across Wigan and the rest of the North West return for another academic year, parents are being urged to ensure their children are up to date with vaccinations.
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Inoculation rates have fallen over the past 10 years and recent statistics show that up to 120,000 children gaed four and five years old and set to start in reception re not protected against catching measles, mumps and rubella.

Measles is highly infectious and if left unvaccinated nine out of 10 children in a classroom will catch the disease. In every region of England cases are rising, with latest data showing that in the North West only 87.1 per cent of children have had both doses of the MMR vaccine by the time they turned five.

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Parents are being urged to get their children vaccinated
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This falls significantly below the 95 per cent World Health Organisation (WHO) target needed to achieve and sustain measles elimination and stop the spread of the disease.

Whilst measles can be mild for some children, one in five will require a hospital visit and the infection can lead to complication in one in 15 cases. There is no specific treatment for measles, so parents are being reminded that vaccination gives the best protection from serious illness.

Tricia Spedding, Head of Public Health for NHS England in the North West, is urging parents and guardians to check their children are fully vaccinated.

Tricia said: “Measles can start with cold like symptoms such as a runny nose, sneezing and a cough with a rash not showing until they have been infectious for up to four days. In a classroom it may not be easy to spot that they have the measles infection at first and before they have a rash they could have infected nine out of ten of their unvaccinated classmates.

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“It’s really important that little ones are fully protected and the MMR vaccine is the best way to keep your children safe and healthy. Check your child’s red book and make sure they’re fully vaccinated. If not, contact your GP practice to book in their catch up vaccinations as soon as possible.”

The MMR vaccine is given at one year old and again at around three years and four months in preparation for starting school. Two doses are enough to give lifelong protection from becoming seriously unwell.

The MMR vaccine is often given at the same time as the pre-school booster including protection against polio. Anyone who has missed any of the vaccinations can catch up at any time.