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Call for more vaccinations as Sussex measles outbreak continues
11:50am Friday 29th June 2012 in News
An outbreak of measles across Sussex is showing no signs of slowing.
Cases in Brighton and Hove so far this year have already outstripped the number recorded for the whole of 2011, sparking fears of another mini epidemic.
Health bosses say the sharp rise in cases is concerning and are urging people to make sure vaccinations are up to date to try to control the spread of the virus.
They warn that measles is potentially a very serious disease and can leave children with disabilities.
There have been 129 cases of measles in the city since January, with 15 adults among those affected.
Most cases are among school-age children but a significant number of under fives have also been struck down.
It is the third outbreak of measles to strike the city in the last four years and it is accepted the virus is now back in the community.
City director of public health Tom Scanlon said: “This comes as a surprise as we did not expect things to be kicking off at such a high level.
“It has been mainly affecting schoolchildren so it is hoped cases may start to fall once the school holidays start.
“The numbers show there are still a significant number of people in the city who are not vaccinated against the virus and we would urge people to make sure they and their children have both doses of the vaccine.”
Low vaccination rate
At least 95% of a population should be vaccinated to prevent an outbreak but in Brighton and Hove the number of under-fives who have had both doses is below 80%.
The city has one of the lowest take-up rates for the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine in the South East.
Many parents choose not to give it to their children because of the now discredited link between the vaccine and autism.
The virus is also spreading across the county with 74 cases reported in East Sussex this year compared to 67 in 2011.
Children are supposed to be vaccinated at around 18 months and again when they start school.
West Sussex, which has the highest MMR take up rate in Sussex, has had 29 cases, which is fast approaching the 37 it had last year.