MRC CECH News
- "New approach to recording suspected child abuse in patient records (press release)"
- Staff 'too timid' on child abuse (Reaction to a series of articles on child abuse published in the Lancet medical journal).
- 'PhD student writes about her internship experience with the Academy of Medical Sciences and Medical Research Council gaining an insight into the medical policy environment'.
- Carol Dezateux awarded WellChild Researcher of the Year 2012
- Centre Director presents at international paediatrics conference
- Parents regaining confidence in MMR vaccine
- Researcher Starts MRC Fellowship
- Response to 'HIV baby cure' headlines
- Importance of MMR Vaccine
- Half of all UK 7 year-olds not getting enough exercise
- Centre's work on HIV in pregnancy highlighted in UNAIDS HIV
- Professor Ruth Gilbert is Clinical Lead for Research on UK's largest study of child mortality
- World AIDS Day 2013
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Measles Outbreak Highlights Importance of MMR Vaccine
26 April 2013
Last year there were over 2000 cases of confirmed measles in England and Wales, the highest number reported for almost two decades. This year, to date, there have been over 500 cases in the Swansea area and over 200 in the North East of England, alone. Almost all those people with the disease had either no or only one dose of MM R vaccine. About half are school age children and 1 in 10 are infants.
Why is this happening when rates of immunisation for young children have been rising? The latest data show that over 92% of 2 year olds in England have had one dose of MMR and 88% of five-year-olds two doses. The corresponding figures for Wales were over 94% and almost 90%, respectively. On the other hand, only 82% of 16 year olds in Wales have had two doses. What we are seeing now is a direct result of the MMR vaccine safety scare set off by a paper in the Lancet in 1998. As a result of a groundless, and subsequently disproven and discredited suggestion that MMR caused autism in some children, many parents of young children born in the early 2000s did not have their children immunised with the vaccine. These children are now school aged and, because they are mixing with many children at school, are now at great risk of developing measles. As measles was uncommon, many parents, and some professionals, forgot how serious measles could be. Prior to the introduction of measles vaccine in 1968, up to 100 children died each year from the disease and many more were admitted to hospital with complications such as pneumonia. From recent data it is estimated that between 1 in 1,000 and 1 in 3,000 people who catch measles will die from it. So if we continue to see the current levels of disease, it will not be long before such a tragedy occurs.
Two doses of the MMR vaccine are needed for optimal protection against the diseases. There is no upper age limit for having the vaccine so any child who has not had two doses, should go to their clinic or surgery as soon as possible to have the vaccine. The vaccine should also be offered to adults born from 1970 onwards if they are uncertain of their immunity.
Figures released 25th April 2013 showed that there were 587 confirmed cases of measles in England in the first three months of 2013. There have been almost 900 cases of measles reported in an outbreak in the Swansea area of Wales. 10% of cases have been admitted to hospital. One of those affected, a 25 year old adult has died. Public Health England estimates that about 330,000 10-16 year olds have not had MMR and the same number again have only had one dose. There is probably a similar number of children and young adults outside this age group who are incompletely immunised. This is more than enough susceptible people to support spread of the disease and indeed there have already been school based outbreaks this year. Speaking on BBC Newsnight, Dr Helen Bedford explained why compulsion was not an appropriate route to follow in the UK. In an article published 25th April 2013 in the Lancet, she expands on why there is no reason to think this would be necessary or desirable in UK.
This morning a nationwide campaign to immunise these susceptible children and young people was launched. Details will be decided locally and will involve GPs and the school health service.
Page last modified on 30 apr 13 11:44