July 19, 2008
Shock Rise in Measles Hits City Families
By Warren Manger
SOARING numbers of children are being struck down by measles in Coventry and Warwickshire because parents are refusing to have them vaccinated.Doctors have treated more than 140 youngsters for measles in the last 18 months - three times the national average.
The alarming rise is blamed on fewer children being vaccinated against measles in the region than elsewhere in the country.
One in five youngsters is not given both doses of the MMR vaccine, compared to just one in 20 missing other vital jabs.
And that means that they are at risk from measles, mumps and rubella - all potential killers. Caron Grainger, director of public health for Coventry, said: "The low numbers of children receiving the MMR vaccine are intimately related to the higherincidence of measles in Coventry."
Cases of measles are continuing to rise in Coventry and Warwickshire and an outbreak in Rugby has seen 17 children struck down in the last three months.
Doctors in Warwickshire treated 71 youngsters for measles last year and have seen another 41 cases since January.
They have also seen 80 mumps patients so far this year, up from 70 for the same period last year.
Last year there were 35 cases of measles in Coventry, prompting health chiefs to launch a vaccination taskforce to encourage parents to get their children immunised.
Parents across Coventry and Warwickshire began refusing to let their children have the MMR jab after scare stories wrongly linked it to an increased risk of autism.
Helen King, director of public health for Warwickshire, said: "The vaccine is proven to be safe and effective in preventing measles and is given to millions of children.
"Parents should make it a priority to immunise their child against this illness which can potentially be very serious."
Health chiefs fear further outbreaks could see the highly- contagious disease spreading quickly between the large numbers of unvaccinated youngsters.
Particularly high numbers of parents have opted out of the MMR vaccine in Coventry's normally well-protected wealthy suburbs, Rugby and North Warwickshire.
Dr Chris Taggart, of Woodside Medical Centre, in Jardine Crescent, Tile Hill, Coventry, said the number of parents worried about the MMR jab was falling at his surgery.
"Overall people are less anxious about the vaccine now although there are still a few patients who don't have it," he said.
But he said the low MMR vaccination rates showed people were still more worried in other parts of Coventry and Warwickshire.
(c) 2008 Coventry Evening Telegraph. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.