MMR jab should be compulsory before children start primary school, says study
Vaccination against measles before children start school should be mandatory, a new study warns.
Current policies may not be enough to eliminate the disease and prevent a resurgence in Ireland, Australia, Italy, the UK and the United States.
A research team at the Bruno Kessler Foundation and Bocconi University, Italy, used a computer model to simulate the measles risk between 2018 and 2050 in Ireland, Australia, Italy, Singapore, South Korea, the UK and the US.
Two doses are required to give the best protection. In Ireland, the first is at 12 months by GPs and the second at junior infants' schools.
The study, published in the journal 'BMC Medicine', found that in Ireland, Australia, the UK and US, vaccination from routine programmes would need to continuously cover more than 95pc of the population to keep the proportion of susceptible individuals below 7.5pc until 2050. The current uptake in Ireland is 92pc but lower in some areas.
Health Minister Simon Harris said he has asked the Attorney General to look at whether the MMR - measles, mumps and rubella - vaccine should be made compulsory for school entry.
Dr Filippo Trentini, who led the research, said: "In recent years, we've witnessed a resurgence of measles cases even in countries where, according to World Health Organisation guidelines, elimination should already have been achieved.
"This resurgence is due to suboptimal vaccination coverage levels. In Italy, where measles incidents rates were among the highest, the government has made vaccination compulsory for children before they enter primary school."
Measles can cause chest infections, fits, swelling of the brain and brain damage.