NHS trusts across England are being urged to make sure children up to the age of 18 receive the MMR jab after new figures showed that the number of cases of measles is on the rise.
The Department of Health is renewing its efforts by making extra doses of the vaccine available and pledging more cash to help trusts vaccinate youngsters in their area.
Uptake rates of the jab are particularly low in London, so trusts in the capital will receive an extra £60,000 while those outside London will get £30,000.
The decline in parents vaccinating their children began in 1998 after a study published in the respected medical journal The Lancet suggested a link between the jab, autism and bowel disease.
Lead author Dr Andrew Wakefield is currently appearing before the General Medical Council (GMC) on charges relating to the research.
Chief medical officer Sir Liam Donaldson has written to all primary care trusts asking them to help cut the risk of a measles epidemic after figures showed there were 1,726 confirmed cases in England and Wales in 2006 and 2007 – more than the previous decade put together.
Estimates suggest that a measles epidemic in Britain could result in 30,000 children and young people being affected, or more than 100,000 in a worst case scenario.
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