Measles and other deadly diseases have been kept at bay in Forth Valley thanks to one of the highest vaccination rates in Scotland, with more than 95 per cent of people being immunised.
However, there are still significant differences in numbers between the most and least deprived areas in the health board area, with poorer areas seeing rates of under 93 per cent while more affluent areas over 97 per cent take-up.
Graham Foster, director of public health for NHS Forth Valley, told members of the health board that getting a vaccination rate of 95 per cent was vital to ensure a good ‘herd immunity’.
In his annual report, he said that Forth Valley had no confirmed cases of measles in 2018, although internationally it has re-emerged as a threat, due to various factors including a strong anti-vaccination lobby on social media.
Forth Valley also has a strong record on the flu vaccination, consistently having the highest uptake in Scotland among over 65-year-olds.
Dr Foster also reported that tuberculosis remains a real threat to people in Scotland and it is taking a lot of public health resources to tackle it.
The annual report gave the latest life expectancy figures for the area, which revealed differences between affluent and poorer areas – but also tells a success story for public health over recent decades, with infectious diseases claiming few lives now. The most common cause of death is cancer (900 deaths) followed by circulatory diseases (800), from around 3000 deaths each year.