Measles is a highly infectious disease that can lead to serious problems such as pneumonia, meningitis, and on rare occasions, long-term disability or death. Symptoms include a high fever, sore red watery eyes and a blotchy red-brown rash, and it is particularly easy to catch in environments when in close contact with others. Spending fifteen minutes with someone who has measles is enough to catch the virus if you are not vaccinated.
The MMR vaccine is a safe and effective vaccine. It is given as two doses of a single injection into the muscle of the thigh or upper arm. Two doses of the MMR vaccine provides the best protection against measles, mumps and rubella. The MMR vaccine is given to babies and young children as part of the NHS vaccination schedule but the number of children vaccinated has fallen.
During and since the COVID-19 pandemic, uptake for routine childhood immunisations has fallen globally, leaving many children unprotected from serious infections and countries at increased risk of outbreaks.
Measles is now circulating in many countries around the world and the World Health Organisation has warned that Europe is likely to see a resurgence unless countries catch-up with the vaccination of children who missed out. Children are offered the first dose of the MMR vaccine when aged one year and the second dose aged 3 years 4 months.
Cllr Maureen McLaughlin, cabinet member for public health and wellbeing, said: “We are asking all parents and guardians to make sure their children are up to date with their two MMR doses. Vaccines are our best line of defence against diseases like measles, mumps and rubella and help stop outbreaks occurring in the community.
“It’s never too late to catch up, and you can get the vaccine for free on the NHS.”
To see if your child is up to date with their MMR vaccines, check your child’s personal child health record (PCHR), known as the red book, or contact your GP practice. It’s important to catch up on any missed vaccines. You can ask your GP practice for the MMR vaccine if your child has missed either of the two doses.
Thara Raj, Director of Public Health for Warrington said, “I urge all parents to check their children are up to date with their MMR vaccines, particularly before they travel this summer. Only 91% of children in Warrington have received 2 doses of the MMR and we need at least 95% uptake to help prevent the spread across the borough. So far we have had no confirmed reported measles cases so we have a great opportunity to try to stop this disease from spreading.”
Anyone with symptoms of measles is advised to stay at home and phone their GP practice or NHS 111 for advice before visiting the practice or A&E. This will help to prevent the illness spreading further.
For more information about the MMR vaccine, visit: nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinations/mmr-vaccine.
It's important to stay up to date with all vaccinations. If your child has missed any please contact your GP to catch up.