GPs swell MMR stocks for catch-up plan

GP practices in England have ordered over 200,000 extra doses of the MMR vaccine in a bid to stem the spread of a record measles outbreak.

MMR: GPs are stocking up ahead of the mass catch-up programme for children (Photo: UNP)
MMR: GPs are stocking up ahead of the mass catch-up programme for children (Photo: UNP)

Official figures show 95% of practices have ordered more stocks in a bid to protect over 600,000 children who have missed out on one or both doses of the MMR vaccine.

The push to secure more vaccine is part of a national programme to increase uptake in children and teenagers. MMR coverage fell in the early 2000s following reports of a now discredited link between the vaccine and autism.

The government launched the catch-up programme in April this year after the largest measles outbreak in 18 years, which was centred on south Wales and the north east of England.

Public health officials say cases of measles remain high in England, with latest figures showing there were 288 cases reported in April alone, bringing the total for the year to 962.

Officials want to see 95% of 10 to 16-year-olds protected before the start of the next school year in September. Parents are being urged to book appointments with GPs if their child is not fully immunised.

Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunisation at Public Health England, said: 'We are getting regular feedback from the local NHS teams about what is happening on the ground and are encouraged by the very high levels of involvement by GP practices across England.'

Professor David Salisbury, director of immunisation at the DH, said: 'It’s encouraging that GPs have taken up the challenge wholeheartedly and ordered almost a quarter of a million extra doses of MMR, so we know they are ready to vaccinate people. The best thing that parents can do, if their children have not had two doses of MMR, is to make an appointment with the GP now.'

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