Measles warning and symptoms for children as jab rates at lowest for a decade


More than one in 10 children in England are starting school at risk of catching measles as vaccine rates have dropped to their lowest level in a decade.

Experts are urging parents to make sure their kids have been fully immunized with two doses of MMR and Salford health bosses issued their own warning this week.

Coverage for the two doses of MMR that helps protect five-year-olds against measles, mumps and rubella is currently at 85.5% – the lowest for a decade, and well below the 95% target recommended to stop a resurgence of measles.

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In 2017 the World Health Organization declared that the UK had eliminated measles, meaning that although some cases could still occur, the disease was not widely circulating and spreading.

But the UK lost its elimination status after cases ticked up again in 2018, with 991 confirmed ones in England and Wales, compared with 284 in 2017.

Measles remains more common in some other countries, meaning it can return to the UK and spread in people who are unvaccinated, if given the chance.

There were already fears over a rise in cases before the arrival of Covid and since the pandemic began, there has been a concerning drop in the number of children receiving the vaccines on time.

Experts say some parents may not have wanted to burden the NHS, or didn’t realize doctors were still offering appointments.

As well as a distinctive rash, measles can lead to severe complications, such as pneumonia and brain inflammation, and sometimes can be fatal.

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Dr Tom Tasker, chair of Salford CCG, said: “We’ve seen a big drop in the numbers coming forward for MMR vaccines during the pandemic. Children with measles can become seriously ill, mumps causes viral meningitis in children and rubella in pregnancy is dangerous for babies. All are preventable with the MMR vaccine.

“If your child has missed their first or second dose of the MMR vaccine, now is the time to come forward and book an appointment at your GP practice. It’s never too late to have a second dose, even it’s been a long time since the first.

“The first dose is given at the age of 12 months and the second dose is given at around three years and four months. Having both doses gives long lasting protection against measles, mumps and rubella. In adults and older children the two doses can be given with a one month gap between them.”

Teenagers and young adults who missed out on their MMR vaccine when they were younger are also being reminded about the risks, particularly as it can be more severe in those age groups. Those who had only one dose are not fully protected.

Vaccines minister Maggie Throup added: “If you are unsure whether your child has had their full course of the MMR vaccine, check their red book or talk to your GP. The vaccine is safe, it will protect your child and their school friends and is very easy to access.”

Measles symptoms to be aware of include:

•high fever

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• sore, red, watery eyes

• coughing

• aching and feeling generally unwell

• a blotchy red brown rash, which usually appears after the initial symptoms.


PHE advises people with symptoms of meals to:

• Stay away from school, nursery or work until five days have elapsed after the onset of a rash.

• Telephone your GP or NHS walk-in center before attending so that arrangements can be made for you to be treated in a separate area to prevent spread to other vulnerable patients.

• Avoid contact with people generally, but babies, pregnant women and anyone particularly who is known to have poor immunity to infection.

Children are offered two doses of MMR vaccine. The first dose at age 12 to 15 months and the second aged four to six.




www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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