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Concern over uptake of MMR vaccine in Aberdeen

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Around one in 10 Aberdeen two-year-olds has yet to receive the MMR jab, according to newly-published NHS data.

The figures have been described as “alarming”, with politicians blaming “bad information” and “scaremongering” for parental reluctance.

The Child Immunisation figures reveal that 90.8% of two-year-olds in the Aberdeen City Council area have received the injection, below the Scottish average of 93.9%.

The uptake rate in Aberdeen improves for six-year-olds, reaching 94.1%.

But the figure is still below the Scottish average of 96.8% for six-year-old children.

The Scottish Government target is for 95% of five-year-olds to have received the MMR vaccine.

Aberdeen City has one of the lowest MMR uptake rates on mainland Scotland with Aberdeenshire (93.6%), Highland (94.6%) and Moray (94.1%) achieving greater coverage.

But the worst figure for two-year-olds is on Shetland, where only 84.4% of toddlers were vaccinated.

The Shetland figure does, however, improve dramatically by the time children are six, with 100% of primary school pupils vaccinated.

North East Tory MSP Tom Mason said: “These are alarming figures, particularly for the Aberdeen area. Immunisations such as MMR are vitally important for children.

“There is far too much bad information and scaremongering online and unfortunately, some people are convinced that they should avoid getting these jabs.

“We must get the message out there about the huge risks involved in skipping these immunisations.”

The data also showed that almost 10% of two-year-olds in Aberdeen have not received their booster jabs for Hib/Meningitis C, pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) and Meningitis B, figures that are again below the Scottish average.

Public Health Minister Joe FitzPatrick said: “Uptake rates of the MMR vaccine are high in Scotland.

“We have continued to exceed the 95% target and there is no evidence of significant transmission of measles in Scotland among infants or children in primary or secondary school.

“However we are not complacent and will continue to make every effort to promote and encourage childhood vaccinations.”

Dr Susan Laidlaw, NHS Shetland Consultant in Public Health Medicine, admitted MMR uptake was “lower than we would like”.

She added that the figures had been affected by a “recording issue” due to the low numbers involved which made the two-year-old uptake rate lower than usual.

Diana Webster, NHS Grampian Consultant in Public Health Medicine, said the health board aimed to make sure childhood vaccinations exceeds 95% to provide “herd immunity”.

She added: “We have concern about the poorer level of vaccination uptake in children in Aberdeen City and work is being taken forward to address this.

“There is some evidence of under-reporting of vaccinations which have in fact been given, so the real uptakes in city children may be significantly higher.”

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