MMR vaccine rates in Suffolk fall short of 95% target
PUBLISHED: 16:18 21 August 2019 | UPDATED: 16:18 21 August 2019
More children are being given the MMR vaccine in Suffolk than the national average - but the figure still falls short of the 95% target set by the World Heath Organisation.
Nationally, rates for the second MMR vaccine (measles, mumps and rubella) have dropped to just 87.2%, leading to a surge in the number of children affected by measles in England and Wales - from 278 in 2017 to 991 in 2018.
In Suffolk, the uptake for the initial vaccine is 94.5% but that drops to 90.3% for the second booster jab.
It means based on figures from January to March this year, Suffolk County Council needs to target an additional 97 children across the county to meet the shortfall.
To address this, NHS England is writing to GP practices to promote the MMR vaccine while Public Health Suffolk works alongside health professionals to raise awareness of its importance among parents.
Councillor James Reeder, cabinet member for public health at Suffolk County Council, said he was pleased Suffolk was "bucking the national trend".
He said: "However, this good news doesn't mean we can be complacent.
"We have more to do and I would urge parents in Suffolk to take their children for vaccination and ensure their child's vaccinations are up to date. "Vaccination prevents serious illnesses such as measles which had complications including pneumonia, ear infections, brain inflammation and in some serious cases even death."
Councillor Jack Abbott, Labour spokesman for children's services and education, said it was encouraging Suffolk was "moving in the right direction" but added there is still "much more work to be done".
He added: "It must be ensured that all services which are regularly used by young families - such as children's centres and nurseries - are given the tools to help promote the importance of vaccinating children.
"Additionally, the numbers of health visitors, school nurses and district nurses must be protected, if not increased.
"It is also imperative that online anti-vaccine myths are countered with accurate vaccination information.
"To parents - please, please get your children vaccinated.
"The risk to them and others is simply too great."