Wigan has impressive vaccination uptake

There has only been one case of measles in five years
There has only been one case of measles in five years

There has only been one confirmed case of measles in Wigan in the last five years, figures reveal.

And that can in no small part be due to the borough’s impressive vaccination uptake rates which are better than both the English and Greater Manchester averages and continuing, unlike many, to improve further.

Wigan’s director of public health says that while she is pleased with the statistics, there is no room for complacency and always room for improvement. The authorities, for example, are currently on their guard because there have been cases in other parts of the city-region.

And Prof Kate Ardern knows how devastating measles can be, having been struck down by it as a child.

She said: “When I was five, which was before the introduction of a measles vaccine, let alone the MMR, I was very seriously ill and developed pneumonia. But for the intervention of the NHS I would not be sitting here talking to you now.

“It left me with asthma and I am short-sighted as a consequence of it too. Of course the disease can have even more serious implications and in some cases can cause fatalities. So we are ever keen to encourage uptake of vaccines.

"I think we have a good relationship with families locally, impressing on them the importance of the MMR and we do a lot of work through early years services, nursery workers and childminders.

"We also have catch-ups for those who might have missed one or more of their jabs when they were infants and are now in their teens or even young adulthood. Even older adults are encouraged to have MMR if they are travelling abroad.”

Figures show that there have not been any outbreaks (that is multiple linked cases) of measles in Wigan borough since 2012.

For the year 2017-18 the uptake rate for one MMR jab by the age of two stands locally at 94.7 per cent: higher than the English rate of 91.2 and Greater Manchester’s of 93.3 and very close to what is termed the “herd immunity” threshold of 95 (the proportion of the population needed to keep a disease under control.)

The same year the uptake for one dose at five in Wigan was 97.1 (compared to England’s 94.9) and the rate for both MMR doses by the age of five was 92.5 in Wigan, compared to 87.2 in England and 90.2 in Greater Manchester.

There was only one reported case of measles in the borough between 2014 to 2018.