Seek MMR refuseniks to halt measles rise

GPs need to seek out and vaccinate children and young adults who have missed out on the MMR vaccine to curb soaring rates of measles infection, a UK expert has said.

Dr George Kassianos, a Berkshire GP and spokesman for immunisation at the RCGP, said: 'GPs need to identify young people and children who have not had two doses of MMR and invite them for vaccination.'

However, he added that GPs needed support from campaigns by primary care organisations and the DoH.

'We need a renewed national campaign that will actively go out to parents and reassure them about MMR, which is the safest solution for our children,' he said.

The DoH should also give practices in deprived, inner-city areas help to promote and administer MMR vaccines, he said.

Latest figures from the Health Protection Agency (HPA) suggest that vaccine uptake has improved since 2003, when just 78.9 per cent of two-year-olds were vaccinated. The 83 per cent of children who received MMR in the year to June 2005 still falls short of the 95 per cent target.

Dr Mary Ramsay, from the HPA, said: 'This is an encouraging trend although much more remains to be done in order to ensure that all children are fully protected.

'Parents should be reminded that it is not too late to get their child immunised.'

Health Protection Agency

MEASLES FIGURES

- 449 cases in England and Wales confirmed between January and May 2006.

- Only 77 cases were confirmed in the whole of 2005.

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