MORE than half a million kids have not had their measles jabs amid social media scare stories about vaccines.
Cases of the deadly virus have increased almost four-fold in England over the past year following a fall in uptake.
NHS boss Simon Stevens warned yesterday of a “public health timebomb”.
And he called on websites such as Facebook and YouTube to adopt a “zero tolerance” approach to the fake posts about the dangers of vaccines.
He said users who spread the baseless content were “grossly irresponsible”.
In 1998 Dr Andrew Wakefield claimed there was a link between the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine and autism.
His research has been discredited and he has been struck off in the UK.
Subsequent studies have found no link but people still spread fake scare stories.
Unicef warns more kids are left unprotected against the virus, and says “fear or scepticism about vaccines” is behind some of the fall in uptake.Children should have two doses of the jab to be protected, with the World Health Organisation setting a target of 95 per cent coverage.
Unicef estimate 169million children worldwide missed the first dose of the measles jab between 2010 and 2017, with 527,000 in the UK.
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Uptake of both jabs by the age of five has fallen in England for four years in a row, from 88.6 per cent in 2014-15 to 87.2 per cent in 2017-18.
There were 259 measles cases in England in 2017, rising to 966 in 2018.
Henrietta Fore of Unicef said: “Measles will always find unvaccinated children. If we are serious about averting the spread of this dangerous but preventable disease, we need to vaccinate every child.”