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Six thousand Wiltshire youngsters at risk of measles

measlesmeaslesSix thousand young people in Wiltshire may be at risk from catching measles, health officials have warned at the launch of a campaign to get children immunised.

Wiltshire has recently seen an increase in infection, with 12 cases being confirmed since the start of April.

Health chiefs are concerned that cases of the highly-infectious disease could snowball.

An epidemic between November 2012 and May this year affected more than 1,000 children and young people in Swansea and Powys. The previous year there had been just 19 reported cases in the whole of Wales.

Now Wiltshire residents are being urged to ensure their children have the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine.

The scare following doctor Andrew Wakefield's now discredited links between the MMR jab and autism in 1998 is thought to have left two million children unprotected.

Maggie Rae, director of public health in Wiltshire, said: “Too many children and young people in Wiltshire remain susceptible to measles infection. It is never too late to protect our children and young people against measles, mumps and rubella. We would urge parents to ensure they contact their GP to arrange vaccination for any children who have not been vaccinated as a priority.”

Analysis carried out by Wiltshire Public Health suggests almost 6,000 young people in the county may be at risk of catching measles. In total 3,300 children and young people aged five to 18 have been identified who are believed to be unimmunised and have no history of having any MMR vaccinations.

A further 2,500 children have been identified as only partially immunised – having received one dose of MMR but not the second ‘booster’ dose.

GP practices will start to invite 10 to 16 year olds who have not received two doses of MMR to attend for vaccination over the coming weeks.

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