Thousands of babies and toddlers are being given two doses of the MMR jab in three months under “emergency” measures to tackle the biggest outbreak of measles for decades.
The unprecedented step follows a growing epidemic of the potentially fatal disease caused after too few children were given MMR injections.
Around 40 per cent of parents in some areas are shunning MMR, which has faced controversy over suspected links to autism and bowel disease.
In South-East London, doctors have seen a record 226 cases in the first five months of the year – compared with 167 in the area during the whole of 2007.
Experts fear last year’s record of 1,000 infections nationally is certain to be broken, putting children’s health at risk.
Government advisers from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation warn the epidemic could spread across the UK and urgent measures are needed to halt the disease in its tracks.
Minutes from its last meeting said: “The committee expressed its concern about the ongoing measles epidemic in London, and noted that other parts of the country may be vulnerable to similar outbreaks.”
Two doses of MMR close together have been shown to boost protection to almost 100 per cent. But children whose parents shun the jab are still vulnerable.
Campaigners fear that giving two doses of the triple vaccine over a short period could “overload” infants’ immune systems.
But medical experts dismiss this. MMR contains live viruses to provoke an immune response against measles, mumps and rubella. Continue reading »
Tags: measles vaccine, MMR, Vaccination, Vaccine