Orthodox vaccination now SEVEN times below average
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Orthodox vaccination now SEVEN times below average

Sharp drops in inoculations against measles, mumps and rubella in five-year-olds recorded in Hackney and Haringey, as health workers urge double jabs for Charedim

Orthodox Jewish parents in London are again being urged to give their children two doses of the MMR vaccine after figures showed protection levels in Orthodox areas falling seven times faster than the national average.

Sharp drops in vaccination against measles, mumps and rubella in five-year olds was recorded in Hackney and Haringey, the two areas with the largest Orthodox populations in the capital.

Last year public health workers identified Orthodox communities in both boroughs as recording outbreaks of measles among Charedi children following contact with un-vaccinated Charedi populations in Israel.

In the first quarter of 2018, Hackney recorded 91.5 percent of five-year olds having had at least one course of the MMR vaccination, but by the first quarter of 2019, that figure had fallen substantially to 88.5 percent.

Likewise in Haringey, the first-dose MMR five-year vaccination figure for the first quarter of 2018 was 90.8 percent, whereas by the first quarter of 2019 it fell to 87.7 percent.

Across the UK as a whole, first-dose MMR five-year vaccination rates fell by 0.4 percent, meaning that in Hackney and Haringey immunity against the potentially lethal diseases has fallen more than seven times faster than the national average.

More worryingly, clinicians say children need two doses to be fully protected, yet while 87.2 percent of five-year olds in England have had this, only 74 percent of children in Haringey are completed immunised, while in Hackney only 67 percent are.

Several have studies have shown that the MMR vaccine is safe, but rumours continue to circulate in religious communities that it is linked to autism, which was the major finding of a long-debunked 1998 study by disgraced doctor Andrew Wakefield.

A population needs to have immunisation levels of at least 95 percent to be protected, sometimes known as “herd immunity,” and some experts are now suggesting governments make vaccinations mandatory.

Orthodox Jews’ reluctance to vaccinate has been cited as a major reason why 1,046 of the 1,215 instances of measles recorded in the United States so far this year have occurred in Williamsburg, a heavily Orthodox area of Brooklyn, New York.

Last year British clinicians identified reasons other than a lack of trust in safety for the low take-up in vaccination rates, including the practical difficulty of immunising large numbers of young children twice.

As such, Public Health England liaised with local GPs, laid on extra immunisation clinics and wrote to Orthodox schools, nurseries and children’s centres to raise awareness that measles was circulating, distributing leaflets in English and Yiddish.

Community leaders likewise urged families to get all children two doses of the MMR vaccine, which kills one in every thousand children who catch it.

After several incidents, school leaders issued a decree telling parents not to send their other children to school even if a sibling had measles, instead urging all family members to get vaccinated or seek medical advice until they return to the classroom.

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