Measles surges in UK years after flawed research linked vaccine to autism

By Maria Cheng

Associated Press

Published: Monday, May 20 2013 9:04 a.m. MDT

Unlike in the United States, where most states require children to be vaccinated against measles before starting school, no such regulations exist in Britain. Parents are advised to have their children immunized, but Britain's Department of Health said it had no plans to consider introducing mandatory vaccination.

Last year, there were 55 reported cases of measles in the United States, where the measles vaccination rate is above 90 percent. So far this year, there have been 22 cases, including three that were traced to Britain. In previous years, the U.K. has sometimes exported more cases of measles to the U.S. than some countries in Africa.

Portia Ncube, a health worker at an East London clinic, said the struggle to convince parents to get the MMR shot is being helped by the measles epidemic in Wales.

"They see what's happening in Wales, so some of them are now sensible enough to come in and get their children vaccinated," she said.

Clinic patient Ellen Christensen, mother of an infant son, acknowledged she had previously had some "irrational qualms" about the MMR vaccine.

"But after reading more about it, I know now that immunization is not only good for your own child, it's good for everyone," she said.

Online:

Public Health England's Measles website: http://www.hpa.org.uk/Topics/InfectiousDiseases/InfectionsAZ/Measles/

AP Medical Writer Mike Stobbe in New York contributed to this report.

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