News ID: 252926
Published: 0856 GMT May 17, 2019

Compulsory school jabs needed in UK to prevent measles spread, experts warn

Compulsory school jabs needed in UK to prevent measles spread, experts warn
JOHANNES EISELE/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Children may need to be vaccinated against measles before starting school to prevent the spread of the disease in the UK, experts have warned.

At least 40 percent of children starting school would need to be immunized, a team of Italian researchers has said, sky.com wrote.

The team from the Bruno Kessler Foundation and Bocconi University claim current vaccination policies are not enough to keep the disease at elimination status and control rising numbers of cases.

The solution, they said, is for far more people to be vaccinated or a schools policy to be introduced.

Such measures are necessary to keep the percentage of the population susceptible to catching measles under 7.5 percent by 2050 — the level at which measles is regarded as eliminated, the study said.

Their report, published in the journal BMC Medicine, found around 3.7 percent of the UK population across all ages was still susceptible to measles in 2018.

But this figure is expected to rise by more than 50 percent by 2050 if current vaccination policies remain the same.

Researchers said most countries "would strongly benefit from the introduction of compulsory vaccination at school entry in addition to current routine immunization programs".

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Coauthor Dr. Stefano Merler added: "In particular, we found that this strategy would allow the UK, Ireland and the US to reach stable herd immunity levels in the next decades, which means that a sufficiently high proportion of individuals are immune to the disease to avoid future outbreaks."

But Dr. David Elliman, consultant in community child health at Great Ormond Street Hospital, said such a policy could backfire in the UK because "only about one percent to two percent of UK parents refuse all immunizations".

"Introducing compulsory vaccination in this country might reduce the very high level of trust that people have in the UK national health Service (NHS) and prove counterproductive. It could even result in lower levels of vaccination," he said.

   
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