PARENTS have been urged to protect their children as cases of Victorian illnesses climb.
Experts have warned that action is needed to tackle disease 'hotspots' across the UK.
Medics said that in some areas, fewer than 60 per cent of children have received their first MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccines on time.
Writing in the BMJ Open, the experts warned that uptake is lowest in north east London.
The most affected areas were clustered in parts of City & Hackney, Newham, Redbridge and Barking & Dagenham.
The Queen Mary study found that across London only 75 per cent of children are receiving the first dose of the MMR vaccine on time, compared to the 95 per cent needed to prevent outbreaks of measles.
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Measles is highly infectious and the experts warned that the poorest neighbourhoods in the capital were most affected – this included Tower Hamlets, they said.
Earlier this month experts warned that millions of kids are at risk of catching the illness due to plummeting levels of vaccine coverage globally.
Carol Dezateux, Professor of Clinical Epidemiology and Health Data Science at Queen Mary University of London, said: "There is an urgent need to ensure all families have equitable, timely access to routine immunisations, regardless of their circumstances.
"The risk of an unprotected child catching measles is much higher if they are surrounded by other unprotected children, so we are particularly concerned about these increasing ‘hotspots’ where timely vaccination is below 60 per cent'."
The experts analysed data from the GP records of half a million children in north east London.
They looked at MMR jabs in two groups of kids.
The signs and symptoms parents need to know
The MMRjab protects children from three illnesses. Here we take a look at the main symptoms for each one.
Measles: The NHS says that measles usually starts with cold-like symptoms, followed by a rash a few days later.
The key signs are:
- a high temperature
- a runny or blocked nose
- a cough
- red, sore, watery eyes
- spots in the mouth
- a rash that starts on the face or behind the ears before spreading to the rest of the body
Mumps: Guidance states that mumps is most recognisable by the painful swellings in the side of the face and under the ears.
Other signs include:
- joint pain
- high temperature
Rubella/ German measles: The NHS says that this can cause a spotty rash that usually starts on the face or behind the ears and spreads to the neck and body.
It can also cause:
- aching fingers, wrists or knees
- high temperature
- sneezing and a runny nose
- sore throat
- sore, red eyes
This included those whose first dose was in the 19 months before the start of the first Covid lockdown in the UK in March 2020 and those whose first jab was due 19 months after this.
They found that the number of kids being given their first dose between 12 and 18 months of age dropped by four per cent during the pandemic.
It's important to note that while many appointments were being done remotely, parents could still take their children to their GP to get their jabs.
However fears of the virus had previously deterred many families from doing this.
Data revealed that the poorest neighbourhoods saw the biggest drop.
This accounted for almost five per cent in the most deprived places, compared to one per cent in the least deprived.
Experts noted that even before the pandemic, London had seen a decline in the timely update of the MMR jab.
Currently, no region in London meets the 95 per cent target set out by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Prof Dezateux added: "Queen Mary’s Clinical Effectiveness Group works closely with the NHS and local authorities in north east London, so we understand the immense pressure on primary care teams at the moment.
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"We have developed free software tools to support practices to manage and deliver the complex childhood immunisation programme as part of a region-wide quality improvement programme.
"Our data shows where more targeted services are needed and can support local initiatives to remove barriers to access and ensure all children in the region have an equal chance of protection. We are working with the NHS in north east London to tackle this problem together.”
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