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Funding boost for MMR prevention

Extra doses of the MMR vaccine are being made available in a bid to ensure that all children up to the age of 18 receive the jab.

The Department of Health is also pledging more cash to help PCTs vaccinate youngsters in their areas after figures revealed a variation in the uptake rates of the vaccination across England.

Estimates suggest that around three million children and young people aged between 18 months and 18 have missed either their first or second dose of the MMR jab. After the first dose, between 5% and 10% of children are not protected against the diseases. After two doses of MMR, this falls to less than 1%.

The figures are particularly low in London where NHS trusts will receive an extra £60,000, while those outside the capital will get £30,000.

The MMR jab, which is designed to protect against measles, mumps and rubella, has proved controversial in recent years.

In 1998, a study published in the respected medical journal The Lancet suggested a link between the jab, autism and bowel disease. The news led to coverage rates falling to an all-time low as parents decided their children would be better off not being vaccinated.

Chief medical officer Sir Liam Donaldson has written to all PCTs asking them to urge parents to get their unprotected children immunised in a bid to cut the risk of a measles epidemic after the number of cases of measles was found to be on the rise.

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Department of Health

What do you think will help increase the uptake of the MMR jab? Your comments: (Terms and conditions apply)

"I am a healthcare professional and both my children were given the triple vaccine. With each vaccine given, a child (or adult) is exposed to the potential for an adverse reaction. If I had given my children single vaccines, I would have exposed them to this risk six times instead of two which I found unacceptable, not to mention the discomfort of having six injections instead of two. Parents should read the evidence for themselves rather than relying on often harmful and inaccurate media headlines." - Anna Billing, Manchester

"My children (now 14 and 11) did not have the MMR as my wife and I disagreed with the triple vaccine. We requested single vaccines and even offered to pay for the single doses. I have a good relationship with my GP and when I asked him had his children had the triple dose he declined to comment. If GPs are not vaccinating their own children with the triple dose then how confident are they regarding the safety of this vaccine." - David Whitcombe, Wales

"I personally feel that taking the immunisation role away from health visitors has contributed to the low uptake of MMR - a lot of parents would welcome home immunisation as for different reasons, ie, working or children at school they cannot attend surgery/clinic on specific days. Also take the catch-up programmes into schools as parents can consent on the day." - Elaine Bebbington, Manchester

"Parents should be given the opportunity to have single vaccines. I agree confidence has been lost in the MMR vaccine and thus there is nothing the Department of Health can do." - Lisa Payne, Redditch

"Nothing. Confidence in the vaccine has been lost. The government professes to be a listening organisation but is not listening to what people want in this regard. Offering individual vaccines would once again increase immunisation uptake and increase herd immunity thus increasing protection in the community." - Eileen Kimmer, Sussex

"The media has contributed to the increase in the infection rate, and without widespread media coverage for the MMR vaccination and highlighting the dangers and the effects of the illness then I cannot see any great improvement being made. I have always been in favour of making the vaccine compulsory for all children." - V Henry, N15

"Yes definitely - long overdue." - Angela, Brighton

"I think that as usual the Deparment of Health is missing the point! We have a severe shortage of the vaccines needed for primary immunisation of the babies and four-year olds, so why aren't they sorting that problem out first?!" - Lisa Boyling, Brighton

"What I think will help increase in the uptake of the MMR jab is making sure the children have it at childhood as they have been doing before." - Maryam Omitogun, Consort Road Clinic

"Unfortunatly child deaths from the diseases will increase the uptake, but I also feel that unhelpful media coverage also decreased the uptake. Commissioning the health visitors and school nurses to vaccinate the children would also increase the uptake, whereas at the moment the GPs are currently given the funding." - Sheila Munks, Nottingham City

"These parents are often back at work and the children have started school when it comes to the second dose. Offering appointments outside the usual 9-5pm will help access." - Susan Berry, Birmingham