May 25 2013 Latest news:
Chloë Mayer, Senior Reporter
Friday, June 8, 2012
Shocking figures obtained by the Gazette have revealed the number of children contracting measles in Hackney has skyrocketed, with 36 youngsters coming down with the disease last month compared to just seven in May last year.
The spike in cases means the figures are five times higher than the same period in 2011 and health bosses fear the increase is due to parents failing to have their children vaccinated against the illness.
Measles is highly contagious, with victims suffering a fever, runny nose, red eyes, and a hacking cough as well as the distinctive itchy, spotty rash. The illness can be fatal if other complications arise.
Experts say in order to protect the whole community, 95 per cent of people have to have the full course of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine, which involves a first dose being given to children after their first birthday, and a second dose when they’re three.
But in Hackney, just 85.7 per cent of children have the first dose, while only 77.4 per cent go on to have the second course – well below the 95 per cent coverage needed.
It’s believed the take-up of the free immunisation fell after false research purporting to show a link between the vaccination and development of the brain disorder autism. The findings were later completely discredited and withdrawn, and the doctor responsible for the report was found to be “dishonest and irresponsible” by the General Medical Council, and no longer has a license to practise medicine.
Dr Lesley Mountford, joint director of public health in the City and Hackney for NHS North East London and the City said it’s never too late to get immunised, and added:
“If your child has not had two doses of MMR they may be at risk.
“Measles is an unpleasant disease and one in every ten people who get the disease could end up in hospital with complications and sadly one in every thousand could die.”
“Immunisation is the safest way to protect your child for life. To ensure that your child is protected please contact your GP practice or health visitor.”
For more information about immunisation, contact NHS Direct on 0845 4647 or visit www.nhs.uk/mmr.