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North-east is bucking the trend; High jab rates sees fall in measles.

Byline: By MARIE LEVY

TEESSIDE'S higher than average MMR vaccination rate has helped reduce the number of cases of measles in the region despite a national increase.

Across the North-east there have been nine confirmed cases of measles so far this year compared to 15 for the whole of 2007.

The figures from the Health Protection (HPA) Agency show that the number of children in the region receiving both doses of the MMR vaccine by the age of five between April and June 2008 was 84.9% - above the national average of 75.2%, but still short of the Government target of 95%.

On Teesside 79.5% of children in Middlesbrough, 85.6% of children in Redcar and Cleveland and 86.7% of children in Stockton received both jabs by the age of five.

"We are partly attributing the low numbers of measles cases in the North-east to our high MMR immunisation rate," said a spokeswoman for the HPA.

"But this is still well below the Government target of 95% which the World Health Organisation advise is necessary to prevent the widespread return of measles."

Nationally the HPA has recorded a 6% increase in confirmed cases of measles in 2008.

Julia Waller, senior health protection nurse for the HPA in the North-east, said: "We aren't yet seeing the same rise in cases of measles in the North-east as many other parts of the country are reporting.

But, as we are such a mobile population, the risk of coming into contact with measles has significantly grown. That's why it's so important for parents to make sure that their children are fully immunised and have had both doses of the MMR vaccine."

Measles is potentially a very serious illness which can on rare occasions be fatal. It is highly infectious and is spread through direct contact with an infected person or through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. There is no treatment for measles but it can be prevented by the MMR vaccine.

Peter Price, locality director for public health in Redcar and Cleveland, added: "People underestimate the potential risk of having measles and the effects it can cause.

All I can say is just make sure your child has both doses of the MMR vaccine."

People underestimate the potential risk of having measles and the effects it can cause.

- Peter Price, above Picture by IAN McINTYRE
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Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:Dec 10, 2008
Words:398
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