Jab campaign leads to measles fall

There has been a dramatic fall in the number of cases of measles in England with cases declining sharply throughout 2013, Public Health England (PHE) said.

In January there were 251 cases which dipped to just three cases in November and five in December.

Between October and the end of December last year there were 24 cases in England compared to 309 cases for the same period in 2012.

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The fall has been attributed to efforts to get more children vaccinated with the jab that protects against measles, mumps and rubella (MMR). During the 1990s some parents did not allow their children to have the vaccine due to an unfounded link between the jab and autism.

Many children were left unvaccinated contributing to a rise in measles in 2012 and 2013.

Last year there was a measles epidemic in the greater Swansea area which saw 1,202 infected and 88 admitted to hospital. One person died.

In England the number of measles infections reached the highest levels in almost two decades for the first three months of 2012, with 587 confirmed cases.

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The rise promoted health officials to launch a national “catch up” campaign to improve MMR vaccination uptake in teenagers.

By August last year 95 per cent of 10 to 16-year-olds in England had received at least one dose.

PHE’s head of immunisation Dr Mary Ramsay said: “The best way to prevent measles outbreaks is to ensure good uptake of the MMR vaccine across all age groups, so it’s heartening to see the success the catch-up programme had in ensuring 95 per cent of 10 to 16 year olds in England received at least one dose of the vaccine.”