New figures show that MMR vaccine uptake rates are the highest in 14 years since the Dr Wakefield autism scandal, with more than nine in ten children having the jab.
Prof Adam Finn, Professor of Paediatrics, University of Bristol, said:
“The continuing upward trend in MMR uptake in young children all over the country is very encouraging, but we are not out of the trees yet. Measles cases are still occurring at much higher levels than previously. There are a lot of older children of different ages out there who missed one or both MMR doses over the last 15 years and they are vulnerable and able to pass the infection on to others.
“Measles is extremely infectious and only with continuous vaccine uptake rates at 95% and above over many years can it come under effective control. We also need to keep our eyes open for cases of mumps and rubella and congenital rubella going forward.
“Any parents who decided against MMR in the past should now reconsider having their children immunised and contact their GP.”
Dr Helen Bedford, Senior Lecturer in Children’s Health, Paediatric Epidemiology Unit, UCL Institute of Child Health, said:
“It is good news that parents have regained their confidence in this highly effective vaccine. However, some teenagers and children have never caught up with missed vaccines and remain at risk of these potentially harmful infections. It is never too late to have the two doses of MMR vaccine needed to protect against measles, mumps and rubella which can be more severe in adulthood.”
Dr David Elliman, Immunisation Specialist of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said:
“This is great news. It means that most babies/infants are now being fully immunised.
“However, because MMR is so infectious it is necessary to have very high uptake of the vaccine to stop spread of the disease, hence the WHO recommendation that we need 95% uptake. There are still large numbers of older children who have not had two doses of MMR and we are seeing the results of this in terms of relatively high rates of measles cases.
“It’s important to emphasise that it is never too late to catch up.”