Michael Gove, MP for Surrey Heath, has urged parents to make sure their child is up to date with their MMR vaccinations, amid rising cases of measles in England.
“Measles is a potentially serious disease, but thankfully it is entirely preventable with two doses of the MMR vaccine. It provides the best protection and it’s never too late to catch up.”
Appointments for missed vaccinations can be made via your GP surgery.
Following a rapid rise in cases of measles in the West Midlands since October, the UK Health Security Agency has now declared a national incident and has warned that outbreaks of measles will spread to other towns and cities unless action is taken to increase vaccination uptake.
Professor Dame Jenny Harries, Chief Executive of UKHSA, said:
“Colleagues across the West Midlands have worked tirelessly to try to control the outbreak, but with vaccine uptake in some communities so low, there is now a very real risk of seeing the virus spread in other towns and cities.
“Children who get measles can be very poorly and some will suffer life-changing complications. The best way for parents to protect their children from measles is the MMR vaccine. Two doses of the MMR vaccine give lifelong protection and it’s never too late to catch up.
“Immediate action is needed to boost MMR uptake across communities where vaccine uptake is low. We know from the pandemic that the communities themselves, and those providing services within them, will have the knowledge to best support local families to understand the risks of measles, to learn more about the vaccines that can protect them and to enable innovative vaccine delivery approaches. We need a long-term concerted effort to protect individuals and to prevent large measles outbreaks.”
MMR is part of the NHS Routine Childhood Immunisation Programme – with one dose offered at one year and another second dose at 3 years 4 months. Parents whose infants missed out, or anyone of any age who has not yet had a vaccine, are urged to come forward. The free MMR vaccine is a safe and effective way of protecting against measles, as well as mumps and rubella.
Measles spreads very easily among those who are unvaccinated, especially in nurseries and schools. It can be a very unpleasant illness and in some children can be very serious, leading to hospitalisation and tragically even death in rare cases. People in certain at-risk groups including babies and young children, pregnant women, and people with weakened immunity, are at increased risk of complications from measles.
Over 99% of those who have 2 doses of the MMR vaccine will be protected against measles and rubella. The vaccine also provides protection against mumps, which can be very painful with complications including inflammation of the ovaries and testicles, and in rare cases, the pancreas. Although mumps protection is slightly lower, cases in vaccinated people are much less severe, highlighting the importance of the MMR vaccination.