Parents in Bedfordshire urged to use half term as chance to catch up on MMR vaccinations

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Parents of children without full vaccination against measles have been advised to use February half-term as a time to book in for the MMR jab, as the numbers of those affected by the disease in England continue to rise.

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Children need two doses of the MMR vaccine for full protection against measles. The first dose is offered around their first birthday, and the second at the age of three years and four months.

Recent years have seen the percentage of children taken for the vaccination has fallen below the 95% needed to be vaccinated. This number is seen as the minimum required to maintain elimination.

Vaccination is also useful as it protects those too young to have them and other vulnerable groups who are unable to go through the procedure.  

Some areas in Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes have seen vaccination numbers as low as 70%, leaving the region susceptible to a large-scale outbreak of measles such as those seen recently in the West Midlands and London.

“Measles is a serious infection which can cause a very unpleasant illness,” said Dr Sarah Whiteman, Chief Medical Director at Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes Integrated Care Board (BLMK ICB).

“It can lead to hospitalisation and other complications and, in rare cases, measles can even be fatal.  The risk of complications is higher in groups such as babies and young children, pregnant women, and people with weakened immunity,” she said.

BLMKICB say that there are several reasons why a child may not be up to date on all of their vaccinations.

This could be down to not being able to find or attend routine appointments during the COVID-19 pandemic, and many of those children are now at school or coming up to school age.

“We are seeing increased demand for the jabs at the moment,” adds Dr Whiteman. “Many parents realise that the time to catch up on missing vaccinations is now, and this is a very sensible approach which I welcome.”

Healthy adults who have not already received two doses of the vaccine will have developed some immunity to measles, but can still have the vaccine though their GP.

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