UK health authorities are targeting schools in London to encourage the vaccination of children with the MMR jab after uptake levels fell to an all-time low following the autism scare. They hope to vaccinate 90,000 children, aged between 4 and 11 years, during this campaign.
Already, reports are coming in that parents are being forced into having their children vaccinated, even though health authorities stress that the programme is entirely voluntary.
Individual schools can also opt out of the scheme, but pressure may be put on them by their local primary care trust, which is receiving a cash reward for participation in the programme.
Given the sustained attack in the media against Dr Andrew Wakefield, who first posited a possible link between the triple MMR vaccine and autism, it's not surprising that health authorities are not offering single jabs in this campaign.
Health officials warn that a measles epidemic is likely this winter in London if uptake levels of the vaccine don't improve. The highest takeup so far recorded is in North-East London, where 83 per cent of eligible children have been vaccinated; the lowest is in the South-East, where only 75 per cent of children have had the jab. The World Health Organization estimates that up to 95 per cent of a population needs to be vaccinated to prevent an outbreak of a disease.