SCAREMONGERING around the impact of vaccinations on social media could be contributing to a fall in jab uptake and rising cases of measles, a former GP has warned.

Since October 1, 2,039 laboratory confirmed measles cases have been reported in England with 5.9 per cent reported in the East of England.

The majority of the cases have been found in children aged ten or under and the UK Health Security Agency has urged parents across the country to ensure their children have received the MMR vaccine.

However, the latest figures show just 83.8 per cent of children received both doses of the jab by five-years of age last year - below the 95 per cent target and a fall from before the Covid pandemic.

Dr Krishna Chaturvedi, a former Southend GP for more than 30 years, fears "social media" is deterring people from vaccinations.

He said: “There is still strong evidence that the vaccination certainly prevents medical complications as well as a life. It is the best protection.

“There can always be side effects with anything, even down to a paracetamol. So, you can’t classify it is harmful to every child that has been immunised, only in very rare cases.

“Social media has an impact as people believe everything they read.

“It is importance to have a clinical sense and balance.

“Lots has been done to educate people to have it, but you can’t make them. A lot of work goes on behind the scene that people aren’t aware of. It is promoted heavily to have it, and people will get reminders. But if people don’t take it, what can you do.”

The Government website states that measles is extremely infectious and it only takes one case for this disease to spread rapidly, especially in schools and nurseries.

They added: “The MMR jab offers the best protection against measles. Measles is preventable but many thousands of children around the country are still not fully vaccinated and may be at risk of serious illness or life-long complications. No parent wants this for their child.”

Despite the rise in cases across the East of England, there are no reported cases of measles in Southend at the moment. 

Krishna Ramkhelawon, Southend Council’s director of public health, added: "There are no reported cases of measles in Southend, and immunisation figures for Southend children are only marginally lower than the national average.

“The data for Southend covering January to March 2024 shows that 93.2 per cent of Southend children received one dose of the MMR vaccine by 5 years of age, with 87.2 per cent  receiving the first dose by 2 years of age, and 83.8 per cent of children received both doses of the MMR vaccine by 5 years of age.

“Vaccines are the safest and most effective method to protect our children against disease, and we urge parents and carers to make sure their children's vaccinations are up to date. If not, please book an appointment to get this done.

“We will continue to work closely with our partners in the NHS to raise awareness of the need for children to be fully vaccinated so that they are protected from potentially life-threatening childhood illnesses, especially as cases of measles infection are on the rise nationally. We will also continue to promote the importance of this to residents in our City and work with the NHS to provide additional immunisation clinics."