'Urgent' need to increase MMR immunisation

The DoH is making extra vaccine and more funds available to help PCTs put in place a campaign to vaccinate every child up to the age of 18 against measles.

In a letter sent to all PCTs today, CMO Sir Liam Donaldson asks them to help reduce the risk of a measles epidemic by offering the MMR vaccine to every child up to the age of 18 who has not been vaccinated.

The number of cases of measles in England is rising following a decade of relatively low vaccine uptake. In 2006 and 2007 there were 1,726 confirmed cases in England and Wales - more than the previous 10 years put together.

It is estimated that around three million children aged 18 months to 18 years have missed either their first or second MMR vaccination.

Scientific advice from both the DoH and the Health Protection Agency suggests that levels of MMR immunisation need to be increased as a matter of urgency.

An average PCT will receive additional funding of £30,000.

Professor David Salisbury, the DoH's immunisation director, said: ‘The evidence on MMR is absolutely clear - there is no link between the vaccine and autism.'

neil.durham@haymarket.com

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