PARENTS are being urged to help keep the number of measles cases in Derbyshire low by making sure their children get the MMR vaccination.
There have been just two cases of measles in the county this year but public health professionals are urging parents to check their child’s vaccination records and take urgent action if they are not up to date.
Derbyshire has a strong MMR vaccination record with 94per cent of two-year-olds and 93per cent of five-year-olds vaccinated – comparing well with the national target of 95per cent for both age groups. But the figures also reveal a small number of children who could still be at risk.
The county will be focusing on vaccinating 10 to 16-year-olds who are unvaccinated or have not had both vaccines needed to provide a higher level of immunity.
Children in this age group are particularly at risk because many missed out in the late 1990s and early 2000s when concern around the discredited link between autism and the vaccine was widespread.
The highest priority group is young people who have never received any dose of MMR.
Derbyshire’s Director of Public Health Elaine Michel said: “Measles is an extremely serious but completely preventable disease so it is reassuring that the vast majority of parents in Derbyshire have been making sure their children are immunised.
“We have an excellent record in Derbyshire with a very low number of people being ill with measles. We want that to continue so I would urge parents to check their children have had the MMR vaccination and if not, urgently ensure they get at least one dose from their GP.
“Our main target group is children and young people but it’s never too late to get vaccinated. It’s so easy to protect yourself and your family and there’s no shortage of vaccines, but if you’re not sure what to do just contact your doctor for advice.”
The first dose of MMR vaccination gives 95per cent defence against the disease and the second dose offers almost complete protection.
The Department of Health’s director of immunisation Professor David Salisbury has reassured parents the safety record of MMR is ‘not in doubt’ and urged them to take urgent action if their child has not been vaccinated.
Public Health England, the NHS and the Department of Health today announced a national catch-up vaccination programme within which each county will produce a tailored plan to give MMR to unvaccinated or partially vaccinated 10 to 16-year-olds following measles outbreaks in parts of the country.