BY YANN TEAR
Health officials at Westminster City Council are sending out their strongest ever message telling families to get their children immunised against measles.
The warning is targeting parents of the estimated one in three children in the borough whose children are not fully protected against the highly infectious disease – those who have had no jabs or have not completed the required course of two jabs.
It comes just weeks after a serious measles outbreak affected dozens of pupils in schools across north-west London.
In a letter to go out next week, parents are being reminded of the risks of their children contracting measles.
It urges parents to take immediate action and visit their GP to get the free and effective mumps, measles and rubella (MMR) vaccine.
Westminster City Council said it was making the move to address the low uptake of the inoculation.
Records show that just two in three children within the local authority are fully protected against the disease.
To achieve the so-called “herd immunity for measles” communities need achieve at least a 95 per cent immunisation rate.
Councillor Heather Acton, cabinet member for family services and public health, said: “We are lucky that the situation isn’t worse in the city, given Westminster falls below the levels required to be effective against outbreaks.
“Measles is a very unpleasant disease and the effects can be devastating, so we want to make sure parents are aware of the dangers.”
The first dose it usually given to children at three months of age and a second top-up dose at three years and three months.
The low take-up in Westminster has been attributed in part to the city’s high turnover of residents compared to other parts of the country.
It is also believed that the high proportion of youngsters who have private medical care and whose vaccination record is not held by the NHS may also be a factor in the low numbers recorded.
In May, Public Health England wrote to headteachers in Westminster, Hammersmith and Fulham, and Kensington and Chelsea warning them to be vigilant for the highly contagious infection.