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.
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.’
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:
Public Health England
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