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Is the MMR vaccination programme failing to protect women against rubella infection?

  • S. SKIDMORE (a1), E. BOXALL (a2) and S. LORD (a2) (a3)

In recent years the number of pregnant women susceptible to rubella has increased markedly. In the West Midlands the proportion has risen from 1·4% in 2004 to 6·9% in 2011. Locally, the proportion of non-immune women ranges from 1·6% in those born prior to 1976 to 17·8% in those born since 1986. The latter group comprises those given MMR in their second year with no further booster doses. The number of non-immune women will continue to rise as a consequence of low MMR uptake in the late 1990s. Repeat testing of samples with values <10 IU/ml and the need to vaccinate women postnatally have increased the workload of laboratory and maternity units. Screening for rubella in pregnancy has no advantages for the current pregnancy and it may be time to review the universal MMR vaccination programme which in turn would remove the need for continuing this practice.

Corresponding author
*Author for correspondence: Dr S. Skidmore, Department of Microbiology, Princess Royal Hospital, Telford TF1 6TF, UK. (Email:
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6. L Byrne , Seroprevalence of low IgG antibody levels among antenatal women in England tested by NHS Blood and Transplant: 2004–2009. Is rubella susceptibility increasing? Vaccine 2012; 30: 161167.

7. C Yung , S Skidmore , S Lord . Postpartum MMR immunization uptake in non-immune women. British Journal of Midwifery 2008; 16: 288291.

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Epidemiology & Infection
  • ISSN: 0950-2688
  • EISSN: 1469-4409
  • URL: /core/journals/epidemiology-and-infection
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