Concerns have been raised for the health of children in Birmingham after new figures showed one of the worst rates for life-saving vaccines.
Fears over the MMR jab have been blamed for the city and Black Country having the third worst level of take up in the country – sparking fears of a “mini epidemic”.
Just 84.3 per cent of children aged five were up to date with their vaccine, with only London, and the Surrey and Sussex zone lower.
Despite more than 95 per cent of people taking up the polio, diphtheria and tetanus vaccines, numbers for the measles, mumps and rubella immunisations are still struggling to catch up, according to figures from the Health and Social Care Information centre.
Professor Peter Lane, Professor of Clinical Immunology at the University of Birmingham, said: “The uptake of MMR is lower than for other vaccines because of concerns that were published in the Lancet by Andrew Wakefield that MMR was linked to bowel disorders and autism. These studies were subsequently discredited and Wakefield was struck off but the stigma re-mains.
“Measles in particular is potentially lethal, particularly in infants, and rubella in pregnant women is associated with congenital malformations. Since vaccination levels have dropped there has been an increase in mini epidemics – such as in Wales last year.”
The numbers of confirmed measles cases in England hit the highest levels since 1995 during the first quarter of 2013, with 587 confirmed cases reported. There were 59 confirmed cases in the West Midlands.
NHS England launched a national catch-up programme to immune as many teenagers as possible after the outbreaks. There were a total 3,524 cases of mumps confirmed in 2013, and three cases of rubella.
Dr Musarrat Afza, PHE West Midlands lead consultant for immunisation, said: “The best way to prevent measles outbreaks is to ensure good uptake of the MMR vaccine.”