MMR uptake levels finally recover from autism scare triggered 14 years ago
Nine in 10 children under the age of two
received the first dose of the triple vaccine
between 2011 and 2012Figures still fall short of 95% target from World Health OrganisationUptake varies from 86.1% in London to 93.5% in Hampshire

By
Daily Mail Reporter

PUBLISHED:

13:32 GMT, 27 November 2012

|

UPDATED:

13:37 GMT, 27 November 2012

The proportion of children having the MMR jab is at its highest level for more than a decade, figures show.

Nine in 10 children under the age of two received the first dose of the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine between 2011 and 2012, according to the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC).

The HSCIC said the level of uptake in England is at its highest since 1997-98, when Dr Andrew Wakefield – who has since been struck of – published a controversial study that suggested MMR was linked to autism.

Children should receive their first dose of MMR vaccine between 12 and 13 months

Children should receive their first dose of MMR vaccine between 12 and 13 months

However, MMR coverage is still falling short on the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) target of at least 95 per cent coverage.

In London the figure is significantly lower, with just 86.1 per cent of children under two having the first MMR jab in 2011-12.

The uptake was highest in Thames Valley, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight where 93.5 per cent of children were vaccinated, according to the HSCIC’s NHS immunisation statistics report.

Children should receive their first dose of MMR vaccine between 12 and 13 months and then a second dose between three years four months and five years.

The uptake of the vaccination programme has varied over the last two decades.

Many parents shied away from giving their children the jab following the publication by a study in 1998 that suggested the vaccine was linked to autism and Crohn's disease. By 2003 MMR uptake had fallen to its lowest level of 82 per cent with figures as low as 60 per cent in the worst areas.

The controversial study by Dr Andrew Wakefield has since been widely discredited. Dr Wakefield was banned from practising in Britain by the General Medical Council in 2010, after being found guilty of more than 30 charges of serious professional misconduct.

HSCIC chief executive Tim Straughan said: 'Our annual figures have tracked the course of immunisation coverage for several vaccines for children over the years including that for measles, mumps and rubella.

'Today’s report marks a significant point in the continued rise of MMR coverage since it hit a low in 2003-04 – as for the first time in 14 years nine out of 10 children in England have had the MMR vaccine before they turn two.

'However, although MMR coverage at two years has risen in all regions of England, and overall the country’s coverage has increased in recent years, the national figure remains below the WHO target of at least 95 per cent.'

Prof Adam Finn, Professor of Paediatrics, University of Bristol, said the upward trend for MMR uptake was encouraging.

However, he added: 'Measles cases are still occurring at much higher levels than previously. There are a lot of older children of different ages out there who missed one or both MMR doses over the last 15 years and they are vulnerable and able to pass the infection on to others.

'Measles is extremely infectious and only with continuous vaccine uptake rates at 95 per cent and above over many years can it come under effective control. We also need to keep our eyes open for cases of mumps and rubella and congenital rubella going forward.

'Any parents who decided against MMR in the past should now reconsider having their children immunised and contact their GP.'