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Last Updated: Thursday, 22 September 2005, 15:38 GMT 16:38 UK
Rise in MMR vaccine uptake rate
Image of a vaccine
Doubts about MMR safety have been discredited
The proportion of children who were vaccinated with the MMR jab increased in England last year.

Statistics show 81% of two-year-olds were vaccinated in 2004/05 - up from 80% in the previous year.

The rise is the first since doubts were cast on the safety of the vaccine - which protects against measles, mumps and rubella.

Research which linked the jab to autism has since been discredited - but uptake rates remain below official targets.

Concern over the jab was sparked by a paper published in The Lancet in 1998 by Dr Andrew Wakefield.

MMR remains the best form of protection against measles, mumps and rubella
Department of Health

The same journal published a study last year concluding that there was no evidence to support a link between MMR and autism.

Epidemic fears

Most health professionals always maintained that the vaccine was safe, and were alarmed when vaccine rates began to tail off sharply, warning it could lead to an epidemic of measles and mumps.

The World Health Organization recommends that 95% of children should be vaccinated to minimise risk of an outbreak of disease.

The latest figures are the first year-on-year rise since 1995-96, when uptake of the jab peaked at 92%.

They show wide geographical variations in uptake rates - in the London borough of Kensington and Chelsea it was just 50%.

A Department of Health spokeswoman said: "MMR remains the best form of protection against measles, mumps and rubella.

"MMR is recognised by the World Health Organisation as having an outstanding safety record.

"Our overwhelming aim is for parents to have their children immunised with MMR, for them to be confident that this is the right thing to do, and to provide parents and health professionals with access to clear factual information about the vaccine."


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