New figures show more children are having the MMR jab – but England is still a distance from meeting the World Health Organization (WHO) target.
Data reveal that the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccination programme has continued its recovery from the blow suffered when Dr Andrew Wakefield suggested a link between the jab, bowel disease and autism in the late 1990s.
The percentage of children in England who had at least one dose of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) jab by their second birthday rose from 84.9% in 2008/09 to 88.2% in 2009/10 – a major improvement on the figure of 79.9% in 2003/04.
Children are invited to have at least one dose of MMR by their second birthday, with the second dose completed by the age of five.
However, the NHS Information Centre report found the number having the MMR jab in England is still lower than in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
In Wales 92.2% are vaccinated, with the figure at 93.7% for Scotland and 92.2% in Northern Ireland.
The WHO has a target of more than 95% of children having the jab – the figure needed for protection in the community.
In England, the highest proportion vaccinated with MMR by the age of two was in the South Central Strategic Health Authority region at 91.4%.
The lowest was in the London region at 81.9%.The study suggests the rise in vaccination may be down to several factors, including improved data quality and collection. There have also been public health efforts to increase coverage.
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