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Measles Vaccine Campaign Aims to Reach Millions of Unprotected Individuals

The NHS in England is proactively reaching out to millions of parents to vaccinate their children against measles amidst a national rise in cases. Over 3.4 million children under 16 are not vaccinated and are susceptible to the disease.
The initial focus is on regions with low MMR vaccine rates like the West Midlands and London.

Last year's campaign increased vaccinations by 10%, but with a recent outbreak in the West Midlands and lower than needed rates of vaccination, health authorities are concerned about the potential for rapid spread.

Dame Jenny Harries has urged for nationwide vigilance, as Birmingham hospitals report increasing cases among children.

The MMR vaccine, administered in two doses at around one year and again at three years and four months, is highly effective. However, only 85% of UK children starting school have received both doses, which is below the 95% target necessary to prevent the disease's spread. In some cities, full vaccination rates for five-year-olds are as low as 75%.

The current initiative aims to inform over four million parents, carers, and young adults about missed vaccine doses through texts, emails, or letters.

This includes over a million children between the ages of six and eleven, 330,000 youths from eleven to sixteen, and nearly a million young adults between sixteen and twenty-six in targeted areas. A past debunked study linking the vaccine to autism still affects vaccination rates today.

Steve Russell from NHS England emphasizes prompt action to control measles' spread, mentioning available catch-up MMR vaccination opportunities. One in five children in Birmingham affected by measles require hospital treatment.

Vulnerable groups include very young babies, pregnant women, and those with weakened immune systems. Measles during pregnancy can cause severe complications.

Declines in vaccine uptake are not solely due to anti-vaccine sentiment; access to healthcare and appointment scheduling issues also play a role. To address this, schools are partnering with the NHS to offer in-school vaccinations.

Dr David Elliman and Prof Helen Bedford stress the importance of addressing parental concerns and combating complacency or misinformation regarding measles risks.

Despite disproven claims about the MMR vaccine causing autism, the myth persists in some communities, affecting vaccination rates, especially among young adults.

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