MMR vacination rates finally recovered from Wakefield scandal
MMR vaccine uptake rates have finally recovered from the Dr Wakefield autism scandal as new figures show more than nine in ten now have the jab- the highest in 14 years.More children are now being vaccinated against measles, mumps and rubella than at any time since 1997/8, new data shows.
Uptake rates plummeted following the publication in 1998 of a study suggesting the MMR jab was linked to autism and bowel conditions by Dr Andrew Wakefield who then worked at the Royal Free Hospital in London.
At its lowest, in 2003/4, fewer than eight in ten children were vaccinated but in some areas less than half of children received the jab.
The research has since been discredited and formally withdrawn by The Lancet medical journal, while Dr Wakefield has been struck off the medical register by the General Medical Council for unethical and inappropriate research practices relating to the study.
Figures released by the Health and Social Care Information Centre in MMR vaccine: coverage for young children by age two at highest level in 14 years show that the number of children having had their first dose of MMR by their second birthday was 91.2 per cent last year. This is the highest level recorded since 1997/8.
MMR uptake rates were the highest ever in 1995/6 when 91.8 per cent of children received the jab.
However even these levels fall short of the recommendation from the World Health Organisation that 95 per cent of children receive the jab to provide ‘herd immunity’ in which a critical mass of the population have been immunised to stop outbreaks of the diseases and protect vulnerable children who cannot have the jab.
Coverage improved in all regions of England with the highest rates in South Central area with 93.5 per cent uptake compared to the lowest in London with 86.1 per cent.
Children receive one dose of MMR at around 12 or 13 months of age and then a second between the ages of three and five years.
Uptake rates also rose for the five in one jab given to small babies from 94.2 per cent in 2010/11 to 94.7 per cent last year.
Coverage for the pneumococcal vaccine which protects against a range of bacteria that can cause ear infections, blood poisoning, pneumonia and some forms of meningitis, also passed 90 per cent for the first time.
Official figures from the Health Protection Agency show there were 112 cases of measles in 1996, along with 94 cases of mumps and 3922 cases of rubella in England and Wales.
There was a mumps epidemic in the mid-200s with cases peaking in 2005 at 43,378, meanwhile measles cases rose to 1370 in 2008 and there is still an ongoing outbreak in Liverpool.
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