Swansea measles: Vaccination campaign targets five schools

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Media captionIsobel Stevens, a teacher at Bishop Gore School in Swansea, talked of her own recent experience of measles

A targeted MMR vaccination campaign has started involving more than 2,000 pupils at five comprehensives in Swansea and Neath Port Talbot.

Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board said more schools would follow in the weeks ahead.

It comes as the number of Swansea measles epidemic cases has reached 765, amid warnings it will continue to rise.

Other health boards will also offer catch-up clinics targeting schools with low vaccine uptake.

Last weekend, around 1,750 people received the MMR (mumps, measles and rubella) vaccination at special clinics held at four hospitals.

'Horrible disease'

Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board said nurses would be vaccinating on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at schools with the highest numbers of pupils at risk of catching measles - those that were either unvaccinated or had only had one jab instead of two.

"I'm relieved we've started this campaign and it's lovely to see children coming forward," Dr Sara Hayes, the board's director of public health told BBC Wales.

"It's a bit early to say [how many have been vaccinated]. We'll have to see at the end of the day how many we've done and among our target group.

"We believe opinion has changed and I'm just pleased people are coming forward."

She said children and young people who have not received the full course of MMR were at high risk of catching measles and "there is no doubt it is a horrible disease".

"I would urge parents whose children need to have MMR to ensure they take advantage of the vaccination sessions at schools," she added.

The health board said letters would again be distributed to parents of children who, according to records, were believed to need the MMR.

Health officials said on Tuesday there had been an increase of 72 measles cases since last Thursday, taking the total to 765.

'Sense of panic'

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Media captionThere have been 765 reported cases of measles in the Swansea and Neath Port Talbot areas

Swansea GP Dr Dai Lloyd said Public Health Wales did not expect cases to peak for several more weeks.

"It's been a busy few months anyway, winter months usually are, but on top of all that we've had many cases, obviously many people worried and in fact invoking a sense of panic about whether or not their child has got measles," said Dr Lloyd on the BBC News Channel.

"People are dropping in on a daily basis, on a ad hoc basis, in all our GP surgeries to have the MMR jab.

"It hasn't peaked yet. Even though there's hundreds of children and young people being immunised in the last couple of weeks with extra clinics everywhere in our major hospitals, there's going to be a lag so we'll see the number of cases continue to rise."

The Welsh government has a target to ensure 95% of children receive both doses of the MMR vaccine. Some 94.3% have received the first dose by the age of two, but only 89.9% have received the second dose by the age of five.

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