Support for compulsory MMR vaccination is growing in Wales following widespread reports of measles outbreak.
At least 12 more cases of measles have been identified in Wales, bringing the total to 253. There are now 188 cases in Mid and West Wales, 57 in North Wales and eight in South-East Wales.
AdvertisementA poll on the website walesonline.co.uk found that 80% of people were in favour of the proposal put forward by Assembly Member and mother-of-two Lynne Neagle. The politician had called in an article in the Western Mail for the triple measles, mumps and rubella vaccine, to be made compulsory.
More than 30 people have been hospitalised after becoming infected with measles in this outbreak - Wales' largest in a generation. Some of those people have been treated in intensive care units. Experts at the National Public Health Service for Wales (NPHS) believe it is now "only a matter of time" before someone in Wales dies.
Dr Marion Lyons, head of the health protection teams for the NPHS, said: "We cannot emphasise enough that measles is an illness that can kill, or leave patients with permanent complications including severe brain damage, and the only protection is two doses of the MMR vaccination.
"With 32 people now admitted to hospital because of these measles outbreaks - some of them having spent time in intensive care units - we fear it is only a matter of time before someone dies or is left permanently affected by measles. People most at risk of catching measles are children of school age who have not had two doses of MMR or children between the ages of one and three who missed their first MMR dose at 13. Although we are seeing some cases of measles in adults, it is rare for anyone born before 1970 to catch measles as they will have been exposed to measles previously and therefore have natural immunity."
But despite evidence of public support for MMR to be made compulsory, the British Medical Association said this would be "inappropriate".
Dr Richard Lewis, the BMA's Welsh secretary, said: "Parents must be able to have a choice. So long as parents have access to the necessary information and facts, they will continue to make the right choices for their families, as they always have done.
"Doctors working in partnership with their patients, is the best way to access the appropriate healthcare and this is no less important in the field of immunisation."
"Now is the time for a concerted public awareness campaign led by the Welsh Assembly Government, that dispels any myths and misunderstandings about the MMR jab, so immunity levels can be raised to the levels needed to protect our children," he said.