In London, less than half of five-year-olds have been vaccinated, raising fears of measles outbreaks as soon as children start school.
Earlier this year Dr Chris Watts, Director of Public Health for Lewisham Primary Care Trust said,
“We have a major problem with measles in Lewisham. One of our local schools has had 30 probable cases plus six confirmed. We have also had several cases in another school and in the community more widely. We must stop measles spreading.”
A year ago the PCT published this report which shows the level of immunisation by super output areas – green is highest, red lowest.
The same report suggests reasons why immunisation is low in the borough:
Whilst the report of the link between immunisation decisions and the media hype around the Wakefield study caused concern for some parents, the study found that the major influence on the decision was friends and relatives opinions, which were often more trusted than professionals’ advice.
It was suggested that the level of trust in the NHS was a key factor in deciding to vaccinate children. It may also be significant that 6 in 10 parents had not received an appointment for MMR.
In August this year the Health Protection Agency issued guidance on a catch-up campaign for immunisation. They said:
Based on the current epidemiology, the first priority is to offer MMR to those aged 13 months to 18 years who have not received MMR vaccine. This group should be called for vaccination before the end of October this year.
Subsequently, primary school children who have received a single dose of MMR vaccine should be called, followed by those of secondary school age.