The number of children having their first dose of the MMR vaccine has fallen for the first time in seven years.
New data shows 92.3% of children were vaccinated with the first dose by their second birthday, a slight decrease from 92.7% the year before which was the highest rate since 1988.
Despite MMR uptake increasing until now the overall number of vaccinated children still falls short of the 95% target needed for 'herd immunity' that offers a measure of protection to children not immunised.
Uptake rates of 95% or more were reported for just over a quarter of local authorities in England (38 out of 149). The figures from the Health & Social Care Information Centre (HSIC) moreover reveal London councils have the lowest levels of MMR coverage.
It is thought a rise in measles cases in 2013 can be attributed in part to the proportion of unprotected 10-16 year olds who missed out on vaccination in the late 1990s & early 2000s when concern around the discredited link between autism & the vaccine was widespread.
The most effective time to vaccinate babies, Public Health England says, is at 13 months, with a booster follow up at three to provide 95% protection.
A baby under the age of 12 months can be vaccinated if he or she comes into contact with a case of measles.
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Source: “Sky News”