Health chiefs urge parents to make sure tots are given the MMR vaccine. AS mumps cases soar, worried health chiefs are urging Pendle parents to make sure their tots are given the vital MMR vaccine.
The area has so far escaped the impact of a dramatic rise in the number of North-West mumps cases but, with the rate of vaccinations below target, experts want parents to put safety first and protect their children.
Dr Ellis Friedman, Public Health Director for Burnley, Pendle and Rossendale Primary Care Trust, is also encouraging young people aged 16 to 25 and particularly those between 17 and 19 to consider being immunised, as many will not have had the necessary vaccination. He revealed: "Our area has escaped the high rates that have occurred in some areas since early January but we would encourage everyone in the target age groups to think carefully about protecting themselves."
In the North-West as a whole, there had been 1,500 cases of mumps reported in the first six weeks of 2005, compared to just 45 cases in the corresponding period of last year.
Dr Friedman explained that the cases had been massively concentrated in areas with a high student population, with the illness spreading fast in teenagers who have not been adequately vaccinated.
"Areas like Manchester, with the biggest student population in Europe, have been affected worst, along with Liverpool. We do not have a university population in East Lancashire and therefore have not been hit by this latest increase, " he said. "However, we want to protect children for the future and those targeted young people more immediately, so I would encourage these two targeted age groups to have the vaccination."
Dr Friedman revealed that, of the target under two-year age group, only 75% had taken up the offer of a vaccination, which is below the Government target of 80%, although he hoped this would rise in the coming months.
"Although there is no immediate alarm in our area, we advise people to think safety first," he said. "There is still a quarter of the target population who are unprotected and we would encourage them to think carefully."
Dr Friedman's advice has been backed up by Prof. John Ashton, the North-West Regional Director of Public Health, who is urging parents to ensure their children are given the life-long protection that two doses of MMR vaccine affords.
He said: "Mumps is a nasty disease that can have serious side-effects. It can result in permanent deafness, viral meningitis and inflammation of the testicles in men and the ovaries in women."
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Weather for Pendle
Thursday 20 June 2013
Temperature: 11 C to 16 C
Wind Speed: 9 mph
Wind direction: East
Temperature: 10 C to 16 C
Wind Speed: 14 mph
Wind direction: West