Demand for MMR jabs shoots up but thousands of Pembrokeshire children are still not protected
Updated 2:11pm Thursday 18th April 2013 in Milford Mercury news
Demand for MMR vaccinations is up 91% in Pembrokeshire as it was revealed that more than 2,000 children and young people in the county have not been vaccinated against potentially deadly measles.
Now, in the wake of the huge outbreak across south Wales, Pembrokeshire parents are being urged to join the fight against measles by ensuring that their children are vaccinated.
“Parents are the front line of defence in this battle,” said the Hywel Dda Health Board’s public health director, Teresa Owen.
Although the number of measles jabs requested across the county last week is 91 per cent up, compared to the same time last year, health chiefs emphasise that more uptake is needed to prevent an outbreak in the county.
As of last November, over 2,000 two to 18-year-olds in Pembrokeshire were completely unvaccinated, with one in eight 12, 14 and 15-year-olds completely unprotected. A further 1,500 four-18-year-olds had only received one of the two MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine doses. Every age group had a higher number of unvaccinated youngsters compared with the Welsh average.
The current outbreak - centered on Swansea - is the largest measles outbreak in Wales for more than 20 years.
Public Health Wales figures show that, from the beginning of November up until last Wednesday (April 10th), there were 763 outbreaks of measles notified, of which 549 were in the Abertawe Bro Morgannwg health board area, which covers Swansea and Llanelli.
The Pembrokeshire total currently stands at 40 - half the Hywel Dda LHB area total. Of these, there has been 12 this year and just one new case this month, with the highest total in December, when 24 cases were notified.
Across the Hywel Dda LHB area, MMR vaccinations provided by GPs have increased by over 100 per cent.
The increased uptake of the vaccination has been welcomed by Ms Owen, but she warned that there is no room for complacency.
Ms Owen added: “If we are to prevent the number of cases of measles rising in our health board area, we must ensure that all children and young adults who have not received the two MMR vaccinations as scheduled do so as a matter or urgency.
“Parents across Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire should check their child’s Personal Child Health Record (Red Book) to ensure their child is protected. Appointments should be made immediately with your GP is they are not fully protected.”
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