Image copyright EPA Image caption Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has vowed to ban incidences of measles in Canada
More than two-thirds of parents in Toronto are “certain or somewhat likely” to get their young children vaccinated against measles, a survey has found.
It’s the highest number of parents in the country who said they were certain or somewhat likely to get the vaccine.
Nine out of 10 parents in Toronto also said it was “completely or somewhat likely” that their child would be protected from the disease.
The poll comes amid concerns that measles, which is caused by a virus, could spread in the UK amid the introduction of new laws.
Why are some parents worried?
Health services are concerned that children in the UK might not be vaccinated due to concerns over “gagging clauses” which prevent parents from reporting incidents.
The UK government’s advice on vaccination dates back to the 1980s and people with unvaccinated children will sometimes receive a letter which states: “The advice we have received from the government and Public Health England has been endorsed by the Health Protection Agency and other public health agencies.”
A shortage of the MMR vaccine, a three-in-one jab, has also put parents off.
First there was a study in the Lancet in 1998 which suggested the MMR vaccine caused autism, then there was a scare over an unfounded claim that the vaccine was linked to bowel disease. There was also some suggestion it made children weaker.
Image copyright EPA Image caption In Toronto, more than two-thirds of parents said they are sure or somewhat likely to get their kids vaccinated
But the Lancet retracted the study in 2010, the World Health Organisation cleared MMR in 2012 and the government said last year it was “only asking for a simple repeat of MMR” and that “this does not in any way imply any connection”.
How bad is measles in the UK?
It used to be very common in England but was declared eliminated in 2000.
In 2014/15, there were 67 cases of measles confirmed, according to Public Health England.
Most happened in southern and western England and there were 24 cases in London, which also had the highest number of confirmed cases.
A total of 58,000 people are confirmed to have contracted measles, according to the Health Protection Agency (HPA).
Image copyright HPA Image caption There were 67 cases of measles in England in 2014/15, with the highest number in London
There have been a further 66 cases so far this year.
Derek Cresswell, the HPA’s national director for immunisation, said it was “very disappointing to see the levels of measles activity across the country and not be able to declare the disease as being eliminated”.
What are the risks of not getting your child vaccinated?
Image copyright HPA Image caption Children who are less than one year old are thought to be too young to have been vaccinated
The HPA said the vaccine “provides two-thirds of protection against measles and the risk of exposure to measles is low in Canada’s general population”.
The UK vaccination rate of 92% is the highest in the world.
The Department of Health said: “Mumps, measles and rubella vaccination is safe and has been clinically proven to be effective and increases protection from other infections.”
If parents choose not to vaccinate their child, this carries a “personal belief exemption”.