Campaign to get children immunised
Merton has had the lowest uptake in the country of the measles, mumps and rubella vaccination, for those aged under two.
Just 78.7% of children under the care of the former Sutton and Merton Primary Care Trust received their first MMR jab by the time they were two in 2011/12 - the lowest of anywhere in the UK.
The London average is 86.1%, also the lowest of any region in the UK. By the time a child reaches the age of five, 77% of Sutton and Merton children had received both MMR jabs - the 13th lowest uptake in the country.
The figures were released by the Health and Social Care Information Centre after an outbreak of measles in Swansea which left one man dead and 800 infected.
Conservative Deputy Leader and Health Scrutiny Chair Councillor Suzanne Evans said: "Thankfully we've not had a measles outbreak in Merton, and let's hope we dont. However the harsh fact remains that as we have one of the lowest levels of uptake of the MMR vaccine, we are clearly at high risk.
"The MMR jab is safe. Measles is not. Please, if you have school-age children who have not been vaccinated, please contact your GP now and get it sorted. You can’t afford to mess with their lives or those of other people they come into contact with."
Consultant nurse in Primary Care Fiona White made herself available to give advice and answer any questions about immunisations during a special session at Morden Civic Centre last week.
Merton Council is also displaying boards with information and advice on immunisation in children's centres around the borough: www.merton.gov.uk/childrenscentres.
The first dose is given to children of 12 months and provides 70% protection. Two doses of the vaccinations are necessary and improve protection levels to about 90%, so those children who have not had two doses should see their practice nurse to ensure they are fully immunised.
The second dose is usually given at three years, four months, along with the pre-school booster. Parents of unvaccinated children as well as older teenagers and young adults who may have missed the MMR vaccination should still have the jab, as it is never too late to have the MMR.
Parents in Merton should check with their GP to ensure their children have had both MMR jabs.
Merton Council cabinet member for children's services Councillor Maxi Martin said: "We take the health and well being of our children and young people very seriously, and the transfer of public health to the borough will help us encourage and support the take up of all vaccinations by parents."
Merton Council Director of Public Health Dr Kay Eilbert added: "Increasing immunisation take-up will be a key priority in my new role and I will be working with Merton's health providers, schools and children's centres to improve access to information and vaccinations."
May 3, 2013