GPs urged to find children without measles jabs

GPs are being urged to search their practice lists for any children who have not been vaccinated against measles, in an attempt to boost poor MMR uptake levels.

Photograph: istock
Photograph: istock

Speaking at the Primary Care 2009 conference in Birmingham last week, Dr Rosemary McCann, consultant in communicable disease control at the Health Protection Agency, warned that the UK was under threat from measles.

‘We have seen measles come back in the UK. It is a terrible tragedy. There have been recent outbreaks in Blackpool and Cheshire.’

‘Herd immunity will protect children, but the current levels of uptake are insufficient to protect children who have not been vaccinated.

‘An uptake of 94% is needed for herd immunity of measles but there is currently great variation across the country, particularly in cities like Manchester where coverage ranges from 83 to 93%.

‘This variation means that we will not have herd immunity.

‘Practices need a strategy to tackle measles. They should identify, invite and immunise all the children on their practice lists who have not been immunised.’

Dr McCann added that practices could appoint immunisation champions to help increase vaccine uptake.
NHS Central Lancashire raised their MMR uptake levels from 87 to 92% in two years by having an immunisation champion, she said.

sanjay.tanday@haymarket.com

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