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Redbridge doctors urge parents to ensure young people get both doses of MMR jab as part of national measles catch-up programme

PUBLISHED: 09:00 02 May 2013

Redbridge CCG chairman Dr Anil Mehta

Redbridge CCG chairman Dr Anil Mehta

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Redbridge doctors are urging parents to prevent measles by making sure children aged 10 to 16 are vaccinated with the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) jab.

Measles facts

Measles is a highly infectious viral illness.

Initial symptoms include cold-like symptoms; red eyes and sensitivity to light and fever.

After a few days a red-brown spotty rash will appear

The MMR vaccine is given as part of the routine childhood vaccination programme, according to a council spokesman.

The first dose of MMR is given at any time after the first birthday, ideally at 13 months of age.

A second dose is normally given before school entry.

According to Public Health England, the rise in measles cases nationally is due to the proportion of unprotected 10 to 16 year olds who missed out on vaccination in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Concern about the discredited link between autism and the vaccine was widespread at the time.

A national catch-up programme to increase vaccinations in young people was announced last week by health chiefs following a measles epidemic in Wales.

And Redbridge GPs will be checking their patient lists to identify young people who have not been vaccinated or have received only one dose and will call them in.

Redbridge Council, which now has responsibility for spending on and commissioning of public health services, estimates 1,800 children aged 16 and under in the borough may not have had both doses of the vaccine, which offers almost complete protection.

There have been no confirmed measles cases in Redbridge in the first quarter of this year and there were two cases last year.

A council spokesman said the two cases were not confirmed but were “notified based on clinical suspicion by the notifying doctor”.

Dr Anil Mehta, a partner at Fullwell Cross Medical Centre in Tomswood Hill, Barkingside, and head of the Redbridge clinical commissioning group, said: “There’s no need to panic, we don’t have large numbers of cases locally, but let’s not be complacent.

“Measles is a very unpleasant, potentially fatal, but entirely preventable disease.

“GPs are geared up and ready to vaccinate children and young people who need the jabs.”

Parents do not have to wait to be contacted, but should contact their surgery to make an appointment if needed and young people over 16 should also be vaccinated.

Among seven east London boroughs, only Hackney had a lower rate for five-year-olds receiving both doses of MMR than Redbridge in 2011/12 - 71 and 77 per cent respectively.

Redbridge’s rate of five year olds receiving both doses has increased from 66 per cent in 2008/9 and a council spokesman said the MMR2 rate was 81.3 per cent for the third quarter of 2012/13.

She said: “Key messages will need to be continually promoted to parents to make sure their children have two doses of the vaccine before they start school.”

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