A WIRRAL hospital has banned children from visiting its ward for premature babies if they cannot prove they have had the MMR jab.
Managers at Arrowe Park have introduced the strict measure in light of the measles outbreak hitting Merseyside.
Latest figures show that the number of confirmed cases in the area rose to 85 – most in the Liverpool area.
Experts from the Health Protection Agency (HPA) said the illness is now being contained. But the Trust has taken the precaution of restricting visiting because the disease is so virulent.
Tina Long, director for infection prevention and control at Wirral University Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Measles is highly infectious and unvaccinated children are at risk when it gets into the community.
“If unvaccinated children pick up an infection they may then pass it on to vulnerable infants who are too young to be vaccinated.
“For this reason we are currently restricting visiting on our neonatal ward to parents and to children who can provide evidence of having had the MMR vaccination.
“Our priority is to ensure that these very vulnerable babies are protected as much as possible from infection. Parents have been extremely supportive of this action.”
St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust has stopped short of banning unvaccinated children from coming onto its neonatal ward but said they are “strongly advising” against it.
Meanwhile, a spokesman for Liverpool Women’s Hospital said that its visiting policy had not changed.
The measles outbreak began in Liverpool and St Helens but then spread to other parts of Merseyside.
The majority of the cases are in children under the age of five who did not have the MMR vaccine at 13 months and babies and toddlers who are too young to be vaccinated.
The HPA is advising people with measles to avoid contact with others until at least four days after they get the rash.