Health

England's MMR jabs 'highest ever'

16-month-old child being given the MMR jab
Image caption It is advised that children have their first MMR jab before they turn two

The number of two-year-olds who have received the MMR vaccination in England is at its highest level since the jab was introduced more than 20 years ago.

But at 92.2%, coverage is still lower than the 95% target set by the World Health Organization (WHO).

The MMR jab protects against measles, mumps and rubella.

The WHO says 95% is the level that offers "herd immunity" - where the whole population is protected because diseases are prevented from spreading.

The data for 2012-13, issued by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC), showed coverage in nine out of 10 areas in England was above 90%.

It was highest in the north-west at 94.9%, but lowest in London at 87.1%.

Routine vaccination 'vital'

The MMR jab was introduced to the UK in the late 1980s.

But a decade later vaccination rates plummeted after now discredited claims of a link between the MMR jab and autism.

The HSCIC report also looked at other childhood vaccinations. It found rates for most vaccinations were increasing.

Mary Ramsay, head of immunisation at Public Health England, said: "Routine vaccination in childhood is vital in protecting children from a range of infectious diseases, many of which have now been consigned to history.

"The findings from HSCIC's report are a good indication that parents and children are increasingly able to access primary care to receive these vaccinations and to protect their health for the years to come.

"This is a good reminder to parents to ensure their child's vaccinations are up-to-date, and, if not, to contact their GP."

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