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GPs braced for MMR jab requests

By Lilian Anekwe

GPs are facing a rush of parents requesting MMR booster jabs, after the Health Protection Agency warned of a surge in the number of reported cases of measles.

Uptake of the MMR vaccine crashed in the wake of safety questions raised by Dr Andrew Wakefield, and though uptake is once again on the rise, the latest HPA surveillance data shows an alarming recent rise in measles.

The number of cases in 2006 was the highest number ever recorded since 1995 and this year looks set to follow that trend.

Some 480 confirmed cases of measles have been reported in the UK so far this year, compared with 756 cases during the whole of 2006. And there are fears that the number of cases is increasing at a higher rate than usual for this time of year because 344 of the 480 cases have been reported since mid-June.

Immunisation experts are concerned by the sharp rise and have urged parents to ensure their children have their full set of MMR jabs before going back to school next month.

Dr Mary Ramsay, the HPA's consultant epidemiologist said: 'Public confidence in the MMR vaccine continues to remain high as the uptake for those receiving their first dose has stayed stable.

'However, it is also important to remember that children should complete their full course of MMR vaccine.

'In January to March 2007 uptake of the MMR vaccine was at 88% for the first dose but only 74% for the second dose. After the first dose, between 5% and 10% of children are not protected against measles hence two doses of MMR will gives better protection.

'It also important to remember it is never too late to get vaccinated.'

A rise in the number of measles cases is expected to prompt a rush for MMR booster requests A rise in the number of measles cases is expected to prompt a rush for MMR booster requests

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