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In many other subjects, important facts were revealed at a time when no one could have known them.

“There were spikes in cases from 2005 and even into this decade, because it’s a certain age of people who didn’t get their jab,” she added.

“When people travelling from abroad mingle with groups of people who haven’t been vaccinated – for example this happened last year at festivals – then you do tend to see outbreaks.” The news comes just a week after it was announced England had achieved the WHO target of giving 95 per cent of children their first dose of the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine by their fifth birthday.

Dr Ramsay said Public Health England was “delighted” about the measles elimination, and the attainment of national vaccine coverage by hitting the 95 per cent target.

She added: “This is a huge achievement and a testament to all the hard work by our health professionals in the NHS, to ensure that all children and adults are fully protected with two doses of the MMR vaccine.

“We need to ensure that this is sustained going forward by maintaining and improving coverage of the MMR vaccine in children, and by catching up older children and young adults who missed out.” Before the introduction of the measles vaccine in 1968, annual measles rates ranged from 160,000 to 800,000, with peaks every two years and around 100 deaths each year.

Last modified 14-Dec-2017 11:43