Measles cases are rising in England

B&dmeasles B&dmumps B&drubella

In recent years the uptake of childhood vaccinations has steadily declined in Leicester, Leicestershire, and Rutland (LLR). The decline locally in our area has been more dramatic than the national trend. This leaves our children and, through them, our entire population, more exposed to the risk of catching many vaccine-preventable diseases.

The MMR vaccine is offered to babies at age 1 with a reinforcing dose at age 3 years and 4 months. It protects against 3 diseases: Measles, Mumps and Rubella. Two doses of the MMR vaccine provide 99% of individuals with excellent immunisation against Measles and in most cases this Measles immunisation lasts a lifetime without further boosting. There is a gelatine-free version of the MMR available to those unable to have porcine-derived products.

In 1998, a doctor named Andrew Wakefield wrote an article wrongly associating the MMR vaccine with the onset of autism. His research was later found to be fraudulent. He has since been struck off the medical register and left the UK to live in the USA. He is an anti-vaccine activist. The MMR vaccine has absolutely no links with autism. It is a safe and widely respected vaccine that has allowed us, for many years, to virtually eradicate the misery of Measles from our lives.

Now, with vaccination rates at record lows, Measles is coming back and there have been cases locally in our area. Whilst older people born before 1970 are extremely likely to have been exposed to Measles as a child and have their own natural immunity, younger adults and children are much more dependent on vaccination for protection. Everyone in the UK is entitled to 2 Measles jabs under the NHS so there is no charge for these vaccinations. Individuals with weakened immune systems (because of illness, medication, or pregnancy) are not usually able to have an MMR vaccination – check with your GP practice if you think this applies to you. New-born babies rely upon their mother’s antibodies to protect them for the first few months of life, so it is extremely important that women of childbearing age are vaccinated before getting pregnant.

Measles is a nasty illness and can cause patients to need around 5 days in bed and to be off work or school for 10 days. Complications include ear and chest infections, fits, diarrhoea, encephalitis (infection of the brain) and brain damage. About 1 in 3000 individuals is likely to die from their Measles infection. It is highly contagious (far more infectious than COVID) and is spread by coughs and sneezes.

There is no harm from having extra doses of MMR vaccine so please check your status and that of your children and, if your records are unclear or any of you have not had your 2 doses, make an appointment with your practice nurse to have an MMR vaccine soon.

Together we can stamp Measles out in B&D. Thank-you!