Vaccinate children with MMR, say medics

Health chiefs in Rotherham yesterday urged parents to ensure they and their children have the MMR vaccination that protects against measles, mumps and rubella, following a recent outbreak of measles on Merseyside.

So far there have been 17 confirmed and 41 suspected cases in the outbreak, with the affected ranging from nine-month-old babies to adults in their twenties.

Parents have been urged to ensure that their children are vaccinated, regardless of their age.

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Kathy Wakefield, immunisation lead at NHS Rotherham, said yesterday: “MMR is safe, effective and reliable, however two doses are required to give full immunity against the serious diseases of measles, mumps and rubella.”

The first dose of MMR vaccine is normally given to children when they are around 13 months old. A second jab follows before they go to school.

Measles is highly infectious and spread through droplets generated by coughing or sneezing. Symptoms include fever, a dry cough, white spots on the gums, diarrhoea and a red rash.

It can lead to pneumonia or even death - and is no longer rare, particularly in areas that have low uptake of the vaccine.

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Mumps, meanwhile, causes fever, headache and swollen glands. In extreme cases it can cause viral meningitis and infertility.

Sufferers become ill up to three weeks after being infected.

Ms Wakefield added: “Measles and mumps are spread through close contact and can be particularly rife amongst young people living and socialising together.

“Some years ago, there were many stories in the media linking MMR with autism. These caused some parents to delay their child’s MMR immunisation or not to have it at all resulting in outbreaks of measles.

“However, independent experts from around the world have found no credible scientific evidence for such a link and in fact now have a large amount of evidence showing that there is no link.”

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