Parents are being urged to get their children vaccinated for measles, mumps and rubella following outbreaks of measles across Europe:
Anyone who is eligible to get vaccinated should get the MMR vaccine.
A measles outbreak across Europe has left UK officials urging parents to get their children vaccinated for measles, mumps and rubella. As measles is highly infectious, anyone who has not received 2 doses of the MMR vaccine is at risk. Particularly those unvaccinated people travelling to countries where there are currently large outbreaks of measles.
In the first three months of this year, there have been 231 confirmed cases of measles and 795 of mumps. While Public Health England (PHE) figures showed while measles cases were lower than the 265 reported during the same period last year, they had more than doubled compared to the 97 reported between October and December. The number of mumps cases has nearly tripled compared to the 275 cases during the first three months of 2018. No new cases of rubella have been reported.
PHE has now appealed to parents to make sure their children receive the MMR vaccine when it’s offered, or to get a GP appointment booked if they missed it. Officials have also warned that not only is measles highly contagious, but it can also kill a child if they are not vaccinated. Anyone who has not received two doses of MMR vaccine is at risk of measles as it is highly contagious.
There have been 3,789 cases of measles in Europe during the first three months of this year, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. The highest numbers were in Romania, France, Poland and Lithuania.
Advice for travellers
For all those planning to travel to Europe, make sure you are up-to-date with all currently recommended UK vaccines. This includes two doses of the MMR vaccine for protection against measles, mumps and rubella.
Anyone who is not sure if they are protected should check with their GP practice. Vaccination is usually done within your childhood vaccinations. However, the MMR vaccine is available to all adults and children who have not had their two-dose course. In some cases, the MMR vaccine can be offered to babies from six months of age. Cases such as travelling to countries where measles is common, or during an outbreak situation. Book a travel consultation with our travel nurse for advice on the best option for your children before you travel.
Head of immunisation at PHE, Dr Mary Ramsay, warned with measles outbreaks across parts of Europe, families should make sure they are vaccinated before travelling. ‘There are measles outbreaks happening across Europe so if you are planning to travel, make sure you check with your GP and catch-up if needed.’
Measles elimination can only be sustained by maintaining and improving coverage of MMR vaccine in children, and by using all opportunities to catch up older children and adults who missed getting the MMR vaccine.
To achieve herd immunity for measles at least 90 to 95 per cent of the population needs to be fully protected. PHE said 94.9 per cent of eligible children aged five received their first dose of MMR in quarter 4 of 2018. However, the second dose of protection falls to 87.4 per cent for children aged five.
Fleet Street Clinic’s medical director, Dr Richard Dawood explains, ‘When the rate of vaccination in the general population falls below 95%, outbreaks occur and can easily spread, with the highest impact on those most vulnerable populations, undermining years of hard work around the world to bring measles under control.’
Vaccination against Measles, Mumps & Rubella
One dose of the MMR vaccine is about 90 to 95 per cent effective at preventing measles. Protection rises to around 99 per cent after the second dose. Two doses of MMR in a lifetime are needed for a person to be considered fully protected.
The MMR vaccine schedule:
- Two doses, to be given at least 4 weeks apart.
- If the first dose is given before 12 months of age (due to the need for early protection), this should be discounted and the child should continue to receive 2 doses as per the normal schedule.
- The vaccine is also available to all adults and children who are not up-to-date with their 2 doses.
Anyone who is not sure if they are fully vaccinated should check with their GP.
You can book all vaccination appointments online.
It’s the 30th anniversary of the MMR vaccine! To commemorate this scientific breakthrough, we wanted to share some information about the MMR vaccine and why it remains as important as ever for people, especially children, to be vaccinated.
The MMR vaccine is a combined vaccination that protects against three highly infectious diseases: measles, mumps and rubella (german measles). All three of which can be very serious and have the potential to cause long-lasting and severe health complications such as significant hearing loss, lung infection (pneumonia), brain infection (encephalitis), viral meningitis and even death.
Thankfully, the MMR vaccine is a highly safe and effective way of providing protection against measles, mumps and rubella. After 2 doses of the MMR vaccine, it is around 99% effective at protecting against measles and rubella and 97% effective at protecting against mumps.
Some people may not remember but before the MMR vaccine rollout in 1988, measles, mumps and rubella were all relatively common illnesses in the UK, especially among children. It is only thanks to a successful NHS vaccination programme with support by the private healthcare sector that cases dropped drastically after this time. And while this is great, the target of 95% of babies being vaccinated is still not being met and there continues to be outbreaks among unvaccinated children and adults. As a result, there is a push from the medical community for even more adults, as well as children to be vaccinated in order to prevent such outbreaks.
Didn’t have the vaccine as a child? That’s okay, there’s still time! It is really important to remember that it is never too late to catch up on childhood vaccinations. There is no upper age limit for receiving the MMR vaccine and so if you missed out on being immunised, it is strongly recommended that you have a “catch up” vaccine. This is especially important for anyone starting college or university, travelling abroad, planning a pregnancy or if you are a frontline health or care worker as your risk of exposure or serious health complications is increased.
As the 30th anniversary of the MMR vaccine is honoured, England’s top doctor and Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Prof Dame Sally Davies, has expressed her concerns that the uptake of the vaccine is “not good enough” and explains the dangers of children not receiving the vaccine.
She suggests that the reason some people are not having their children vaccinated is the result of people listening to anti-vaccine propaganda “myths” and “social media fake news”. She stresses the importance of listening to the science that provides clear evidence that the MMR vaccine is both safe and effective, and has helped “save millions of lives”.
Many of the false concerns over the MMR vaccine originated from a now-discredited study by former doctor, Andrew Wakefield, who incorrectly linked the MMR vaccine to autism back in 1998. This research has since been completely discredited and as a result, Andrew Wakefield was struck off the medical register for professional misconduct. Ever since, the medical community has worked hard to alleviate any lingering concerns over the safety of the MMR vaccine.
Our wonderful nurses at Fleet Street Clinic have been administering the MMR vaccine to our patients for over 25 years and we strongly believe in protecting all our patients with safe and effective vaccinations.
To read the full article, please click the link.
Measles on the rise:
The World Health Organisation (WHO), has reported that measles cases are on the rise worldwide and in Europe alone, outbreaks have surged to a 20-year high.
The WHO states that reported measles cases (provided by each country) currently show that about 229,000 cases have already been reported, compared with 170,000 for 2017. Worryingly the 2018 number is likely to rise as the reporting deadline ends April ’19.
With a 50% increase in measles cases last year, it is important to understand the benefits of vaccinating against measles:
Dr Richard Dawood, our Medical Director explains;
“I recently heard about a patient suffering a bad attack of shingles. She didn’t believe in doctors, medicines or vaccines, I was told, and was languishing at home, with a dreadful, crusted rash across her body, and burning with pain. She had stuck to her beliefs and refused to take antiviral medication that could have aborted the attack or reduced the probability of ending up with long term nerve damage and lingering pain. Shingles can strike more than once, but since she doesn’t believe in vaccines (there is a good one that is 95% effective) she will have to take her chances of a recurrence in future. I disagree with her opinions, but her latest actions will harm nobody but herself.
But measles is different: when it comes to vaccination, personal choices and opinions have a direct impact on the health and wellbeing of others – individually as well as for entire communities. Measles vaccination is a major public health issue. Memories of the past outbreaks, epidemics, tragic disability and loss of life that drove research and ground-breaking vaccine development now belong to a previous generation. In these days of “fake news”, “influencers” and social networks, it has become too easy to undermine confidence in matters of public health. In the case of measles, concerns about vaccine safety are down to the “fake research” of Andrew Wakefield, who was struck off the medical register for concocting a spurious link with autism in the 1990s. But the damage was long-lasting.
The complications of measles are most severe in babies who are not yet old enough to be vaccinated, and children with reduced immunity. When the rate of vaccination in the general population falls below 95%, outbreaks occur and can easily spread, with the highest impact on those most vulnerable populations, undermining years of hard work around the world to bring measles under control.
That is what is happening now”.
VACCINATION AGAINST MEASLES
‘The highly contagious disease can cause severe diarrhoea, pneumonia and vision loss. It can be fatal in some cases and remains an important cause of death among young children”, according to the WHO.
The disease can be easily prevented with two doses of a safe and efficient vaccine that has been in use since the 1960s’.
Make sure you are up-to-date with your vaccinations including the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine. Although the NHS immunisation schedule offers the vaccine to children from 12 months of age, the MMR can be given from 6 months. If you have not had measles or if you have not had two doses of MMR, you may be at risk. Measles is easily passed from person to person and can be a serious illness in adults as well as children. It is never too late to have the vaccine.