The Government is assessing its stockpiles of the MMR vaccine and has drawn up a ‘national plan’ to tackle the current measles outbreak, health secretary Jeremy Hunt said yesterday.
Mr Hunt told MPs at the House of Commons Health Committee that he was taking the outbreak in Swansea ‘extremely seriously’ and that it should not be thought of as a problem confined to Wales. He said the Government was checking its stocks of vaccine and warned of a ‘critical 11-15 age group’ who may not have been vaccinated as toddlers, due to the scare over a study which linked the vaccine to autism.
Asked by former GP and Conservative MP Dr Sarah Wollaston if he was planning to introduce a national campaign, Mr Hunt said: ‘If you mean a national plan, yes.’
He added: ‘We are taking this extremely seriously in the Department of Health.’
‘In terms of making sure we have enough vaccines, making sure that were talking in a targeted way to communities and schools, that is absolutely going on.’
Mr Hunt said that he was consulting with the Chief Medical Officer about the role of publicity in persuading families to get vaccinated.
The news comes after the death of a man in Swansea was linked to the illness. Figures from Public Health Wales show 886 cases of measles have been reported in Mid and West Wales since November.
MPs said measles had spread to other cities, and warned the health secretary that in some parts of England 30% of children are not vaccinated.