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Region is a measles 'hotspot'

PUBLISHED: 13:24 03 August 2009 | UPDATED: 11:18 06 July 2010

Norwich is at risk of a measles epidemic unless more children are vaccinated against the highly infectious disease, according to the Department of Health.

Norwich is at risk of a measles epidemic unless more children are vaccinated against the highly infectious disease, according to the Department of Health.

An NHS measles roadshow is coming to the city after it was identified as a “hotspot” for the illness, with vaccination rates still far lower than needed to protect the population.

Figures for NHS Norfolk show that to the end of March 2009, 88pc of children had been vaccinated with the MMR by their second birthday. But that still means that more than one in 10 children are at risk of catching measles.

Though preventable, measles is a highly infectious disease and can be serious. Because it spreads so easily, 95pc of the population need to be vaccinated to prevent outbreaks.

Around one in 15 children who catch measles will develop more serious complications like deafness, meningitis or brain damage. And for every 5,000 children who contract the illness, one child will die.

On Saturday, August 15, the 'Measles: Is your child safe?' roadshow will visit Norwich as part of a tour of 12 measles hotspots across England, some of which are already experiencing outbreaks of the disease.

The roadshow will be at The Forum between 9am and 5pm, and Judy Ames, NHS Norfolk's senior infection control nurse, said: “It will be a great way for parents to access information about measles, which will include recognising the symptoms, understanding the dangers of the disease and finding out how they can get their child vaccinated.

“People tend to forget that measles is a highly infectious and dangerous illness which can spread easily among unvaccinated children. If your child does become ill with measles, it can be very serious and cause severe complications - the best way to protect them is by ensuring they have two doses of the MMR vaccine.

“We continue to urge parents to ensure their children have the two doses of this vaccine. Those who have not had the MMR vaccine, or who have only had one dose, can still be vulnerable.”

In March health professionals in the Yarmouth and Waveney area voiced concerns that a low take-up of the vaccine could lead to an epidemic of measles. NHS Yarmouth and Waveney has arranged for parents of all unvaccinated children to be contacted.

Uptake of the MMR vaccine fell sharply after now-discredited research suggested it carried a raised risk of health problems.

Even if a child is older or has missed their vaccination, it is not too late to protect them with the MMR vaccine. Parents should contact their GP or the Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) on 0800 587 4132.

Do you have a story for the Evening News? Contact reporter Kim Briscoe on 01603 772419 or email kim.briscoe@archant.co.uk


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