Parents told not to panic but still vaccinate children

Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage.

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HEALTH officials are urging parents to get their children vaccinated against measles in a new campaign.

After the outbreak of the disease in Swansea, a national campaign has been launched to make sure all children are immunised.

JABS A youngster is immunised

JABS A youngster is immunised

NHS figures from the Health and Social Care Information Centre show that in 2011/2 Portsmouth had one of the lowest rates of MMR immunisation – which protects against measles, mumps and rubella – in the country, with 83 per cent of children having two jabs by the time they were five.

In Hampshire the figure was 88 per cent and the average across the country was 86 per cent for that year.

The most recent figures that the city council has for uptake show that 88 per cent of children have had two jabs by the time they are five.

The World Health Organisation sets a target of 95 per cent but virtually nowhere in England achieves that.

There was only one case of measles in Portsmouth in 2012.

Dr Andrew Mortimore, director of public health in Portsmouth, has said that parents do not need to panic but should still get their children vaccinated.

Dr Mortimore said: ‘We don’t currently have a problem, but we strongly encourage parents of eligible children and other eligible people to visit their GP practice and ensure that they are fully protected with MMR.

‘Measles is at its highest level in England for the past 18 years.

‘We have a low level of measles historically in the city but the best way to prevent a measles outbreak in Portsmouth is to make sure there is good uptake of both MMR vaccinations across all ages.

‘It’s never too late to get vaccinated against measles.’

In Portsmouth there is a campaign running at the moment called ‘Be a Hero’ which urges parents to make sure their children have all the jabs they need.

The national campaign has been started after a generation of children missed their vaccination in the 1990s due to reports linking the MMR vaccination with autism.

Since then, the reports have been discredited and with levels of measles reaching its highest in two decades, fears are that children have a higher risk of contracting the disease.

Ten to 14-year-olds are getting special priorities for the vaccination alongside under fives who are due to take it in line with national vaccinations.