At-risk children need measles vaccine - health chief

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Scotland’s chief medical officer has called for children aged between ten and 17 to be vaccinated against measles.

Sir Harry Burns made the call ahead of the launch of a nationwide campaign this week to boost take-up.

NHS boards will soon be offering the vaccination to ensure young people will be protected if they have not already been immunised or are not fully immunised against the potentially deadly disease.

They will also work with schools and education authorities to make sure people have all the information they need.

Currently, the ten-to-17 age group is most at risk of being infected and of passing the disease to others, the chief medical officer said.

“Although measles continues to circulate throughout the UK, the number of cases in Scotland remains low,” he said.

“Getting vaccinated is the best way to protect our children against serious diseases and I would urge parents to ensure their children are protected.

“We already have an excellent uptake of the measles vaccination, with rates currently at 96.9 per cent in children reaching the age of five, well above the World Health Organisation target of 95 per cent.

“There is still a proportion of ten to 17-year-olds in Scotland who are not immunised or partially immunised – this is the age group who are most likely to have missed out on vaccination during the years of unfounded controversy over the safety of the vaccine,” said Burns.

Last week he wrote to health board chiefs across Scotland urging them to ensure all staff were vaccinated in preparation for a “likely” outbreak of measles.

Dr Andrew Wakefield was struck off the medical register for his discredited research, which claimed to find a link between autism and the MMR vaccine used to protect against measles, mumps and rubella. The study, published in 1998, caused a global scare and a significant fall in uptake levels in subsequent years.