HUNDREDS of Solihull children getting ready to start primary school next month have not been fully vaccinated against measles, mumps and rubella (MMR).
Around 11.2 per cent, around 291, of school starters in the borough have not received both doses of the vaccine according to Public Health England (PHE) West Midlands estimates based on figures for 2017/18.
These estimates have been released as part of PHE’s Value of Vaccines campaign and the body is calling on parents to check their child’s Red Book to ensure their children are up-to-date with scheduled immunisations.
The public health body say 95 per cent of the population needs to be immunised to achieve ‘herd immunity’ – protecting the public at large.
In the UK, dose one of the MMR vaccine is usually given to infants at around 12 months of age.
A second dose is given before school, usually at three years and four months of age, to ensure best protection.
For a person to be considered fully protected PHE say two doses of MMR in a lifetime are needed.
The 4-in-1 pre-school booster is also usually offered at three years and four months of age and protects against diphtheria, whooping cough, tetanus and polio.
Around 680,000 five-year-olds start school in England each year according to Department for Education figures.
It is estimated around 30,000 of these children have not received their first dose of MMR, leaving them significantly more at risk compared to pupils who are fully vaccinated.
PHE say around 3,000 of these children are in the West Midlands.
Dr Ashis Banerjee, screening and Immunisation lead in Public Health England West Midlands, said: “We’re particularly concerned about children being at greater risk of measles.
“We’ve seen outbreaks of this disease in the West Midlands in the past two years and we’re continuing to see outbreaks of the disease occurring in communities across the country, many linked to visiting European countries over the summer holidays.
“The vast majority of those affected are not fully immunised and vaccine preventable diseases spread more easily in schools.
“It’s crucial that children have maximum protection as they begin to mix with other children at the start of their school journey.
“We often think that these diseases are confined to the past, but the World Health Organization has recently confirmed that measles is no longer eliminated in England.
“Whilst tetanus and polio are still rare thanks to the success of the NHS childhood immunisation programme, over the past few years we’ve also seen cases of whooping cough and diphtheria in school-aged children.”
To check that your child has received all their vaccines visit www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinations/nhs-vaccinations-and-when-to-have-them/ and refer to your child’s Red Book.
If in any doubt, contact your GP practice.