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Measles epidemic: 10,000 teens still unvaccinated in Wales

Public Health Wales is concerned that the measles outbreak may spread outside of the Swansea area as cases continue to be reported across Wales.

There have now been 1,074 cases of measles in the area affected by the outbreak - an increase of 13 in the last two days - and 1,237 across the whole of Wales.

Public Health Wales (PHW) is particularly concerned about the Gwent area, where 84 measles cases have been notified since November 2012 and almost 10,000 young people aged 10 to 18 are still not vaccinated.

More than 43,000 non-routine MMR vaccinations have been given since the start of the outbreak, and in the Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board area, the number of unvaccinated children has reduced by 46%.

But there are concerns that with 38,000 children remaining unvaccinated across Wales - and fewer than 2,500 10 to 18 year olds vaccinated in Gwent so far - there is the potential for further outbreaks.

The 10 to 18 age group has been hardest hit in the outbreak and is the age group likely to have missed out on vaccination in the late 1990s.

Dr Marion Lyons, PHW director of Health Protection for  said: “Thirteen new cases in the last two days may not seem like a lot, but it should be remembered that in 2011, we only saw 19 measles cases in the whole of Wales for the whole of the year.

“The 84 cases in Gwent are a huge concern to us and with 10,000 children there still in need of vaccination, we are warning young people and parents not to be complacent just because they don't live in the outbreak area.

“There is no way of knowing where the next outbreak could strike so the message is simple - wherever you live in Wales, if you are a young person who hasn't received two doses of MMR or the parent of a child who hasn't, please arrange vaccination urgently.

“It is encouraging to see so many parents bringing their children for vaccination now who refused the vaccine in the past, and we must keep this up if we are going to see an end to the current outbreak and have the best chance of preventing more outbreaks in the future.”