Published: April 27, 2013
Burnham-On-Sea parents urged to take up MMR vaccines for children

Parents of children and teenagers in Burnham-On-Sea who missed their MMR vaccines have this week been urged to join a catch-up vaccinations programme.

The programme - which has been launched by Public Health England, the NHS and the Department of Health - is aimed at halting the spread of measles by vaccinating as many unvaccinated and partially vaccinated 10-16 year olds as possible in time for the next school year.

New figures published this week by Public Health England show high numbers of confirmed measles cases in England during the first three months of 2013, reaching 587 by the end of March, following a record annual high of almost 2,000 cases in 2012.

In Somerset, there were 16 confirmed cases of measles in 2012 and one confirmed case so far in 2013.

Experts believe the rise in measles cases can be mostly attributed to the proportion of unprotected 10-16 year olds who missed out on vaccination in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

In Somerset, a catch-up programme will identify un-vaccinated and partially vaccinated 10-16 year olds through GPs to encourage uptake of the vaccination.

Trudi Grant, Acting Director of Public Health at Somerset County Council, told "Measles is a potentially fatal but entirely preventable disease, so it is very disappointing that we have seen an increase in numbers of cases."

"The catch-up programme recommends that we specifically target young people most at risk. Those who have not been vaccinated should urgently seek at least one dose of MMR vaccination which will give them 95 per cent protection against measles. A second dose is then needed to provide almost complete protection."

"Measles is not a mild illness - it is very unpleasant and can lead to serious complications, with around one in 10 children who get measles being admitted to hospital."

"Signs to look out for include a few days of cold-like symptoms, followed by a rash with high fever and possibly red eyes and a cough. In some people it can cause pneumonia and ear infections and in rare cases, people can die from measles."

"It’s never too late to protect against measles. Parents of unvaccinated or partially vaccinated children, teenagers and young adults should urgently arrange to get vaccinated by their GP. If you are unsure whether your child has had two doses of the vaccine, speak to your GP who will have a record."

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