Measles cases on the rise as experts appeal for higher MMR vaccination uptake
PUBLISHED: 12:00 30 April 2018
A sharp rise in measles cases has prompted health experts to launch an appeal for children and young people to get vaccinated.
There have been 32 cases of the illness, which causes cold-like symptoms, a fever and blotchy rash, from January to March this year across Avon, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire.
This is compared to the same period in 2017 when no cases of measles were confirmed.
Although North Somerset has the highest percentage of five-year-olds receiving their second dose of the Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) injection from October to December last year (93.7 per cent) in the affected area, health experts are calling for more people to be fully vaccinated.
Dominic Mellon, Public Health England South West consultant in communicable disease control, said: “While measles is now relatively uncommon in England thanks to the MMR vaccine, those who are unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated, remain susceptible to the disease.
“The cases we have seen recently in the area have affected young adults.
“It is important to be aware it is never too late to have the vaccine, so if you have not received two doses of the vaccine in the past – or you are unsure – speak to your GP. There is no harm in receiving an additional dose where there is any uncertainty.”
The increase in measles cases is linked to large outbreaks in Europe.
Anyone who has travelled or will be visiting countries including Italy and Germany are particularly susceptible.
Dr Julie Yates, lead consultant for screening and immunisation in the South West, added: “The increase in cases locally across Avon, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire is in line with increases currently being reported in other parts of England and Wales.
“We know that in the Avon, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire area, vaccine uptake rates have improved in recent years, but these continue to be below the 95 per cent level required to provide population protection.
“The current increase in cases serves as an important reminder for parents to take up the routine offer of the first MMR vaccination for their children at one year of age and a second as part of the pre-school booster at three years and four months of age.”