The epidemiology of rubella in England and Wales before and after the 1994 measles and rubella vaccination campaign: fourth joint report from the PHLS and the National Congenital Rubella Surveillance Programme

E Miller, P Waight, N Gay, M Ramsay, J Vurdien, P Morgan-Capner, L Hesketh, D Brown, P Tookey, C Peckham
Communicable Disease Report. CDR Review 1997 February 7, 7 (2): R26-32
The national immunisation campaign carried out in the United Kingdom in November 1994 was designed to give children aged 5 to 16 years of age a single dose of a combined measles and rubella vaccine. Its main objective was to prevent an epidemic of measles predicted in school age children. The rubella component of the vaccine was included in order to reduce the high level of susceptibility to rubella in young adult males and thus reduce the risk of transmission from this group to pregnant women. Susceptibility to rubella in children aged 5 to 16 years has fallen from 15.7% to 3.4% since the measles and rubella campaign. Despite this the incidence of laboratory confirmed rubella rose substantially in 1996, largely on account of cases among males aged 17 to 24 years, who were not vaccinated in the 1994 campaign and about 16% of whom are susceptible. The impact of the resurgence on the incidence of infection in pregnancy has been relatively limited, due to the low level of susceptibility in the antenatal population (2% in nulliparous and 1.2% in parous women for 1994/5). No cases of congenital rubella arising from administration of measles and rubella vaccine during the campaign have been identified. The numbers of babies born with congenital rubella and terminations of pregnancy for rubella arising from the 1996 resurgence are expected to be similar to those that followed the 1993 resurgence. The reduction in susceptibility in future cohorts of young men who received measles and rubella vaccine in the 1994 campaign should prevent future resurgences after the year 2000. If a second dose of measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine had not been introduced, susceptibility levels in the school age population would have risen to about 12% in the future. The effect of the second dose of MMR vaccine introduced for children aged 4 to 5 years in October 1996 will be assessed through serological surveillance.


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