Public schoolchildren at greatest risk over measles outbreak
Privately educated pupils are those who face the greatest risk from the measles outbreak which is currently affecting Wales.
Leading doctor Professor John Ashton, who represents the UK’s public health doctors, said to the Daily Mail that public schools could become a “reservoir of disease”.
He reckons that this could be due to a mix of large numbers of middle-class children who were not vaccinated against measles in the 90s, following the MMR vaccine controversy, along with boarding students coming from overseas, whose health records are difficult to establish.
He warned that because private schools do not have proper policies to protect children and they make their own laws, they might put at risk both pupils and the wider population.
Professor Ashton said: “Normally when you are talking about subsections of the population that are at particular risk of disease outbreaks…you are talking about groups like gypsies and travellers. But actually children in private schools, and in particular boarding schools, are one of the categories most at risk.”
The leading doctor recommended to all independent schools to check the immunisation records of overseas pupils and suggested there is a need to “engage with” those families who refused to vaccinate their children, in order to limit the spreading of the contagion.
Dr David Elliman, an immunisation specialist from the Royal College of Paediatrics and an expert in child health, agreed with Professor Ashton about the high chance of a measles outbreak occurring at an independent school.
The NHS has started a four-week programme targeting unprotected children in South Wales to stop the spreading of the disease.
According to the latest estimates, the number of measles sufferers in the greater Swansea area is likely to pass the 1000 mark over the weekend.
Four local hospitals have also started drop-in vaccination clinics and a similar programme is now in place across three counties close to Swansea.