MMR jab uptake highest since 1998

News Shopper: Nine in 10 children under the age of two received the first dose of the MMR vaccine between 2011 and 2012, figures show Nine in 10 children under the age of two received the first dose of the MMR vaccine between 2011 and 2012, figures show

The proportion of children having the MMR jab is at its highest level for more than a decade, figures show.

Nine in 10 children under the age of two received the first dose of the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine between 2011 and 2012, according to the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC).

The HSCIC said the level of uptake in England is at its highest since 1997-98. However, MMR coverage is still falling short on the World Health Organisation's (WHO) target of at least 95% coverage.

In London the figure is significantly lower, with just 86.1% of children under two having the first MMR jab in 2011-12. The uptake was highest in Thames Valley, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight where 93.5% of children were vaccinated, according to the HSCIC's NHS immunisation statistics report.

Children should receive their first dose of MMR vaccine between 12 and 13 months and then a second dose between three years, four months and five years.

The uptake of the vaccination programme has varied over the last two decades. Many parents shied away from giving their children the jab following the publication of a potential link between the vaccination and autism and Crohn's disease. However, the study that initiated the controversy has since been discredited.

HSCIC chief executive Tim Straughan said: "Our annual figures have tracked the course of immunisation coverage for several vaccines for children over the years including that for measles, mumps and rubella.

"Today's report marks a significant point in the continued rise of MMR coverage since it hit a low in 2003-04 - as for the first time in 14 years nine out of 10 children in England have had the MMR vaccine before they turn two.

"However, although MMR coverage at two years has risen in all regions of England, and overall the country's coverage has increased in recent years, the national figure remains below the WHO target of at least 95%."

Since the vaccine was introduced in 1988, the number of children who develop these conditions has fallen to an all-time low.

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