Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 17 September 2014

Last-ditch appeal over measles jabs

The programme to inoculate thousands of children at risk from the measles epidemic in the greater Swansea area ends this week

Health chiefs are appealing to children still unprotected against measles to sign up to an in-school vaccination drive before it ends.

A programme to inoculate thousands of children at risk from the epidemic in the greater Swansea area, in south Wales, ends this week. The major drive has been focused in schools in the weeks since Easter and backed up by a series of Saturday drop-in clinics in hospitals.

Massive numbers of previously unprotected children have been given the triple measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) jab as a result. But as schools across Wales break up again at the end of this week health chiefs are eager to ensure as many get vaccinated as possible.

It comes as measles continues to spread in the greater Swansea area, rising by 20 cases in the last five days, to a headline 1,125.

The number of measles cases across Wales since the outbreak began at the start of November 2012 now stands at 1,325. Public Health Wales (PHW) underlined again that while the rate is slowing, the 20 new cases is still more than for the whole of Wales in 2011.

It is also reminding parents and children that it is particularly urgent that the worst hit 10 to 18 age group should get the MMR jab.

Dr Marion Lyons, PHW director of health protection, said: "This is the final week that children in schools across Wales will be offered the MMR vaccination. Parents whose children have not yet been fully vaccinated with two doses of MMR are reminded to complete the consent form to ensure the vaccine can be given.

"Children over the age of 16 can consent to the vaccination without needing their parents to sign the form. The MMR is also available through GP surgeries, and more than 3,500 doses of MMR have been given in Welsh GP surgeries in the last seven days, which is a great sign that people are still coming forward for the vaccination.

"But those who would prefer to attend a school session rather than make a GP appointment are reminded that this is the last week they will be taking place, so now is the time to act."

Drop-in vaccination sessions will also be held in the Powys teaching Health Board area this Saturday, May 25. Anyone needing to catch up on MMR vaccinations can call into the outpatients departments of Brecon Hospital or Newtown Hospital between 10.30am and 2.30pm.

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