Students urged to have MMR vaccine before term starts
PUPILS and students are being urged to make sure they get the MMR jab before the start of the new academic year.
With the end of the long summer holidays on the horizon, health bosses are urging children and young people to get fully immunised before returning to the classroom or lecture theatre.
The call follows a major outbreak of measles in South West Wales earlier this year.
Sara Hayes, director of Public Health at Abertawe Bro Morgannwg Health Board, said it was important young people had the full course of two MMR injections.
She said: "Now is the time for all students and pupils to make sure they are as fit as they can be for the new term.
"This advice also applies to young adults who are not in school, college or university. If you haven't had two doses of MMR, ask for an appointment with your GP for MMR as soon as possible.
"Anyone who had their first dose of MMR during the recent measles outbreak needs to remember to have their second now, if they haven't had it already.
"One dose of the vaccine gives some protection but two doses is more effective and enough to last a lifetime."
Dr Hayes said medics were not only concerned about the measles element of the MMR jab but also mumps and rubella.
She said there had been 76 confirmed cases of mumps in Wales in the first three months of the year, and that the disease could lead to complications including pancreatitis, swollen ovaries or testicles, and encephalitis.
The peak age group for the disease is 20 to 24 year olds.
And she said that while there had been no cases of rubella in Wales since 2005 there had been cases in England, and that the disease was especially dangerous to pregnant woman, causing miscarriages or leaving surviving babies with a range of conditions such as mental handicap and heart abnormalities.
Dr Hayes said "Measles, mumps and rubella are unpleasant, potentially life-changing diseases.
"We don't need to put up with them. All children and young adults need to be protected with two doses of MMR."
The South West Wales measles outbreak started in November last year, with more than 1,200 cases recorded — including one fatality and 88 cases where people ended up in hospital after contracting measles.
It was officially declared over in July.