Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 September 2014

Rush for jabs amid measles outbreak

Public Health Wales is urging parents of unvaccinated children across Wales to act immediately to ensure they are protected against measles

More than 2,000 people have been vaccinated at clinics set up to tackle a measles epidemic in south Wales.

Queues of people turned up early at many of the special drop-in sessions to receive their free MMR jabs.

Health officials said over 1,700 jabs were administered in the Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board area, which includes Swansea, Neath Port Talbot and Bridgend.

In south east Wales a further 400 people received the vaccine in Ystrad Mynach, near Caerphilly, and 200 people had the MMR injection in Newport. Further clinics are expected to be held next weekend and schools are also being targeted next week as officials try and prevent the epidemic spreading further.

In Swansea, more nearly 700 people have been infected and at least 6,000 children remain unvaccinated in the south west Wales county.

Meanwhile, the Government dismissed claims by Dr Andrew Wakefield - the doctor who sparked a global scare about the MMR vaccine 15 years ago - that officials were responsible for the recent outbreak affecting south Wales, the north east of England and in Gloucestershire.

Dr Wakefield, who was struck off over the MMR controversy, said officials had appeared to be more concerned about protecting the MMR programme than they were about protecting children when they withdrew the option of single measles vaccine.

"These government officials put price before children's health and have been seeking to cover up this shameful fact ever since," he added.

A Department of Health spokesman said: "Dr Andrew Wakefield's claims are completely incorrect.

"Immunisation advice from the department has always kept the interests of patients paramount. Measles is a highly infectious and harmful disease."

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