Measles warning as epidemic grows

An epidemic in Wales has alerted health officials across Lancashire.
An epidemic in Wales has alerted health officials across Lancashire.
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Parents in Blackpool are being written to in a bid to urge them to make sure their children are protected against measles.

Child health doctors across the UK are warning more than a million schoolchildren nationally could be susceptible to measles due to the MMR vaccine scare, with a generation of unprotected children now in secondary school.

A large epidemic in Swansea has now affected more than 800 people with the death of a 25-year-old man now being investigated as part of the probe.

Health experts say there have been recent cases of measles in Lancashire, although none to date this year on the Fylde coast.

Now parents who health bosses know did not have their children vaccinated with the MMR jab, or only partially vaccinated, are being contacted to invite them to have the vital injection.

In Blackpool, 92 per cent of children have had their first dose of the MMR vaccine by their second birthday and 84 per cent have had first and second doses by the time of their fifth birthday.

Last year on the Fylde coast, there were 14 cases of measles.

Lynn Donkin, public health specialist for Blackpool, said: “We did see a drop in uptake of the MMR vaccine, due to a lot of the publicity there was a few years back and concerns created after the research by Andrew Wakefield.

“That research has now been completely discredited and the vaccination itself is completely safe.

“Some of the key messages we are trying to get across are that it’s never too late to be vaccinated, so if people haven’t had the vaccination at all or only one of the two, or if they aren’t sure, they can contact their GP who will be pleased to help.

“It’s important people have the full course to be fully protected. It can be a very unpleasant illness.

“I think people tend to forget, because we don’t see it so much these days, just how unpleasant it is.

“And it can have serious and life-threatening complications – that’s why we are so concerned about people being protected.

“We have had no cases here this year, but are aware of outbreaks in other parts of the country and cases in Lancashire.

“We have been writing to those parents we know of, whose children haven’t had the vaccination or have only been partially vaccinated, to urge them to contact their GP and arrange the vaccination.”

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