MMR take up below levels recommended for 'herd immunity'

But take up in the local area still above the national average


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Concerns are growing that the continuing fall in the number of children taking the MMR vaccine could lead to the loss of herd immunity in the local area. The national rate of take up for the vaccine has fallen to 80% and for London as a whole it is now only 70%.

In Ealing, take up is above the national average at 81% but this is still well below the recommended level to ensure 'herd immunity".  The World Health Organisation says that 95% of children should be immunised to prevent outbreaks of disease. However Hammersmith and Fulham is seeing a take up of the vaccine of only 59%  and Hounslow stands at 74%.

Immunisation rates for MMR have fallen steadily since 1995 when research was published suggesting there may be a link between the jab and autism. At that point 92% of children were receiving it but, despite government reassurances and further research which dismisses the link with autism, the rate of immunisation is steadily falling.

The numbers do not include children who have received the single vaccines so the actual level of immunisation may be higher.

London has a much lower uptake of the vaccine than the rest of the country and has already started to see outbreaks of measles. Although measles is generally harmless to children complications can occur which make the disease life threatening.

Public Health Minister Melanie Johnson said: "A recent major study of UK children concluded that children who receive the MMR vaccine have no increased risk of autism than children who don't have the vaccine. This is consistent with numerous other studies from the UK and around the world."

Take-up rates for other vaccines are on the increase with over 94% of young children being vaccinated against diphtheria, tetanus, polio, whooping cough and meningitis C.

September 27, 2004