Measles jab alert as cases soar in holiday destinations

A teenager getting the measles jab
A teenager getting the measles jab

The take up of key vaccines in Wigan children is higher than both the regional and national average, new figures reveal.

But as the school holidays get under way, borough parents have been warned to make sure their children’s inoculations are up to date following outbreaks of measles in Europe. Cases in the UK have also rocketed this year, as figures show parents are still not taking hundreds of young children for their measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccines.

It means the area is falling below the vaccination level the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) says is required to prevent outbreaks of measles.

The most recent figures show that, in the 2016-17 financial year, 91 per cent of children in Wigan turning five had received the recommended two MMR jabs, which means around 350 five-year-olds in the area have not.

The ECDC warns that areas in which fewer than 95 per cent of the population are vaccinated are at a heightened risk of a measles outbreak. But only four EU countries have hit the target, with the UK among those falling short.

In the North West, just 90 per cent of children had received both MMR jabs by the age of five in 2016-17.

In the UK, 757 cases of measles have been reported so far this year – nearly triple the 274 cases reported in the whole of 2017.

The Royal College of Nursing has also advised teenagers who missed their jabs in the late 1990s to ensure they are up to date before travelling. Many missed the course of vaccination amid fears over links between MMR and autism.

But in Wigan youngsters appear better equipped to counter a range of illnesses, including MMR, than many. Some 94.5 per cent of have had the first MMR jab by 24 months - higher than the regional average of 93.6 and English mean of 91.6.

The five-in-one DTaP/IPV/Hib jab, which wards off diptheria, tetanus, whopping cough, polio and hib, is taken up by 96.6 per cent of Wigan children at 12 months. This compares with 93.7 regionally and 93.4 nationally.

Prof Kate Ardern, director of public health at Wigan Council, said: “We would like to thank those who have made sure their child is protected against many of these illnesses which thankfully are now rare due to the success of the vaccination campaign.

The immunisation programme is vital and the borough being above the national and regional average for vaccination take-up is testament to the hard work put in to combat potentially fatal conditions.”