Parents urged to check vaccine records

Parents are being urged to check their children are up to date with their measles, mumps and rubella vaccinations following a rise in measles cases.

According to the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), between 1 January and 20 April this year, there have been 49 cases of measles compared to 54 cases in the whole of 2022. Most cases have been in London, though they have been found elsewhere and some are linked to travel abroad.

Uptake for the first dose of the MMR vaccine in children aged 2 years in England is 89 per cent and uptake of 2 MMR doses in children aged 5 years is 85 per cent. The WHO sets a target of 95 per cent to achieve and maintain elimination.

Dr Vanessa Saliba, Consultant Epidemiologist at UKHSA, said: "We are calling on all parents and guardians to make sure their children are up to date with their 2 MMR doses. It’s never too late to catch up, and you can get the MMR vaccine for free on the NHS whatever your age.

"Vaccines are our best line of defence against diseases like measles, mumps and rubella and help stop outbreaks occurring in the community.

"Measles spreads very easily and can lead to complications that require a stay in hospital and on rare occasions can cause lifelong disability or death, so it is very concerning to see cases starting to pick up this year.

"During the COVID-19 pandemic we saw a fall in uptake for the routine childhood vaccinations, including MMR which leaves us vulnerable to outbreaks, especially as people travel abroad for summer holidays to places where measles is more common."

NHS director of vaccinations and screening, Steve Russell, said: "The NHS has an inspiring history of successful vaccination programmes that have proven time and time again they are the best tool in our arsenal against the spread of highly infectious diseases and since vaccination for measles cases was introduced, over 4,500 lives have been saved.

"The MMR vaccine has helped prevent the development of potentially life-threatening illness among millions, and it is clear that when uptake falls, infections rise, so I strongly urge parents to review the status of their child’s vaccinations so they can keep them and others protected from measles, mumps and rubella."

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