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DH announces MMR catch-up campaign

By Lilian Anekwe

The Department of Health has announced a £5.5m investment to launch a national MMR catch-up campaign to be delivered in general practice.

The funding will ensure that every child up the age of 18 is vaccinated against measles, mumps and rubella.

Chief medical officer Liam Donaldson has written to all PCTs to urge them to put systems in place to make sure that all children under 18 who have not yet been vaccinated are included in the catch-up programme.

The Department have acted after the number of cases of measles in England rose following a decade of relatively low vaccine uptake caused by concerns over the vaccine's safety.

In 2006 and 2007 there were 1,726 confirmed cases in England and Wales - more than the previous ten years put together. From 1996 to 2005 there was a total of 1,621 confirmed cases.

Professor David Salisbury, director of immunisation at the Department of Health, said: ‘Parents who have not had their children vaccinated with the MMR vaccine should do so now. The evidence on MMR is absolutely clear - there is no link between the vaccine and autism.

‘The MMR vaccine coverage is not high enough to remove the threat of recurrence of measles outbreaks. Measles is serious and in some cases it can be fatal. Delaying immunisation puts children at risk.'

PCTs in London PCTs will receive £60,000 each and PCTs outside London £30,000, to ‘reflect the higher ratio of children requiring MMR vaccination in London', the announcement states. The money will be used to purchase an extra 500,000 doses, in advance of the campaign beginning in October.

The DH have promised £5.5m for an MMR catch-up campaign The DH have promised £5.5m for an MMR catch-up campaign

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