'More needs to be done' as hundreds of Doncaster children have not had MMR vaccination

Hundreds of Doncaster children are not being vaccinated every year against measles, mumps and rubella (MMR).

Hundreds of Doncaster children are not being vaccinated every year against measles, mumps and rubella (MMR).

Latest figures show only 86 per cent of children were given the vaccine in two doses before the age of five.

A report seen by members on the Health and Adults Social Care Overview and Scrutiny Panel shows the borough lags behind the national benchmark of 95 per cent.

Dr Victor Joseph, a public health consultant at Doncaster Council, said certain ethnic groups, namely the Gypsy and Traveller communities, were less likely to get their children vaccinated and work was being done to identify and encourage parents to do so.

Statistic seen by councillors on the scrutiny panel reveals that 24 out of 44 GP surgeries in Doncaster vaccinated less than 90 per cent of children under five. Just eight met the 95 per cent national target.

Measles, mumps and rubella are highly infectious conditions that can have serious, and potentially fatal, complications including meningitis, swelling of the brain and deafness. They can also lead to complications in pregnancy that affect the unborn baby, and can lead to miscarriage.

Since the MMR vaccine was introduced in 1988, it's rare for children in the UK to develop these serious conditions. However, outbreaks happen and there have been cases of measles in recent years.

Thorne & Moorends councillor Mark Houlbrook asked what provisions were in place to encourage parents to get their children immunised.

He said: "With the MMR vaccine, it's quite clear there maybe some cultural issues and resentment from parents because of all the poor information that's out there and some of it that's not true.

"What I foresee is changing attitudes and getting the right information out there because we should be telling people what they need to know rather than what's nice of them to hear."

Dr Joseph said there were some 'innovative ways' GP surgeries were carrying out in getting parents to bring their kids for the MMR vaccine, particularly in more deprived communities.

"It's also about identifying those children and mothers who are less likely to come to appointments," he said.

"It's been recognised by us that transport maybe an issue and family circumstances can be a difficulty.

"It's about targeting those patients who are not turning up and see how we can reach them. In some practices, this may only be five or seven children, in others, it will be more.

"There are hard to reach communities, particularly Traveller and Gypsy groups. We have done some work on this and it's an area where it can be about reach and access to a GP and making sure they're signed up."