Measles epidemic fear grows as parents shun top-up jabs
PUBLISHED: 18:01 01 October 2008 | UPDATED: 13:40 05 October 2010
HUNDREDS of youngsters in the East End are not protected from measles despite warnings that an epidemic could hit the borough. According to NHS data only 66 per cent in Tower Hamlets have received the full two doses of the vaccination against measles, mu
HUNDREDS of youngsters in the East End are not protected from measles despite warnings that an epidemic could hit the borough.
According to NHS data only 66 per cent in Tower Hamlets have received the full two doses of the vaccination against measles, mumps and rubella, by their fifth birthday.
And health bosses in Tower Hamlets warned this week that the uptake needs to go up to 95 per cent to prevent an outbreak of the infectious disease.
The Health Protection Agency (HPA) issued a warning last year after the number of reported measles cases shot up over the summer and in Tower Hamlets there were 70 cases from August 2007 to August 2008.
But the NHS figures show that nationally the uptake of the vaccine has plummeted with London having the lowest uptake of the MMR jab in the country with only 49 per cent of children having had the full two doses of the vaccine by their fifth birthday.
That compares with a national average of 74 per cent.
The data revealed that the borough has a high uptake of kids receiving their first dose of the jab by their fifth birthday, at 88 per cent.
But Tower Hamlets PCT ran a campaign last autumn to encourage more children to follow this on with the second dose and 6,500 children were contacted.
This resulted in a 38 per cent uptake and there are plans to repeat a similar campaign this year.
A spokeswoman said: "There is a possibility of an epidemic in London if local boroughs do not increase their MMR uptake because measles is a very infectious disease and all boroughs need to reach 95 per cent uptake to prevent any form of outbreak occurring in Tower Hamlets and other London boroughs."
And Luise Dawson, public health nurse, added: 'The most important thing parents can do to prevent the spread of measles is to have their children vaccinated with the MMR vaccinations at 13 months and the booster between the ages of 31/2 and 5 years.
"Measles is a serious disease and for some children it can lead to pneumonia, encephalitis - water on the brain - and it can kill.'