Solihull mums and dads are being urged to ensure that their children have had the MMR jab, amid concerns that youngsters who miss out on the vaccine risk serious illness.
The latest quarterly data for the borough suggests that around one in ten children turning five had not had both doses of the vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella.
The figures, covering July to September last year, stated that 88.6 per cent (686) had received the recommended dose. 78 children had failed to receive both doses, with 25 having received neither.
The coverage was slightly down on the 89.9 per cent in the previous three months.
Ruth Tennant, from the council’s public health team, reminded a meeting this week that the World Health Organisation (WHO) had removed the UK’s measles-free status last year, following a spike in the number of people falling ill.
And cases of the highly-contagious mumps virus are also on the rise.
Against this backdrop, Ms Tennant told Solihull’s health and wellbeing board that it was imperative efforts continued to ensure the issue was dealt with.
She said work was going on within the borough to identify “at risk” groups and that NHS England was contacting GP surgeries to ensure youngsters are getting both doses.
“A lot of the evidence coming through nationally is that quite often people have that first one, they don’t come back for that second one,” she said.
“The more we can do to chase as hard as possible to get that second one through … that’s really important.”
She also touched upon the “anti-vaxx” scare stories, which are known to circulate on sites such a Facebook, and are sometimes blamed for a fall in take-up.
“There is concern out there that this is social media and people are worried about vaccination; actually the evidence is that there’s an awful lot you can do by just making it as easy as possible.
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“And constantly reaffirm the message this is a good thing to do. Measles can be really harmful. We know from some cases we’ve had, hospitalisations we’ve seen, and we’re seeing it’s spread very quickly around families.”
In the UK, the first MMR dose is usually given at around 12 months and a second should follow before a child starts school.
National statistics show that one in seven five-year-olds (around 90,000) have not received both doses.
More details are available via the NHS website – https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinations/mmr-vaccine/