Cumbrian parents are being asked to check children are fully up to date with their MMR vaccinations after a rise in measles cases.
Parents can do this by looking at their vaccine records in their Red Book. The MMR vaccine protects against measles, mumps and rubella. Data recently published by UK Health Security Agency shows there has been a rise in measles cases.
Kerry Foot, School Aged Immunisation Programme Lead for NCIC, said: “Although our latest data for MMR uptake rates for Cumbria are on average high, we are seeing a slight drop in uptake year on year. You need two doses of the MMR vaccine for it to be effective. Dose 1 is given when the child is one and the 2nd dose is given at around 3 years and 4 months, before a child starts school.
"Having both doses gives long-lasting protection against measles, mumps and rubella.
"In Cumbria, we are above the World Health Organisation’s 95% coverage target for giving dose 1 but for dose 2 we are now below the target. More concerning is that the figures for both doses are falling year on year.”
For 2022/2023 95.5% of children were given the MMR first dose and 93.5% given the second.
For 2021 /2022 97% of children were given the first dose and 94% the second.
Kerry explained that the NHS in Cumbria is now reaching out to parents to check their child’s vaccine status and offering the opportunity to get the vaccine:
“We are about to send out letters to all children aged 4 to 16 years old who are outstanding to one or more MMR vaccination. We are urging parents to check their records and contact our team/and or their GP to arrange a clinic appointment.”
The immunisation team contact details are:
- 01900 705045
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.
The UK Health Security Agency is urging all parents of young children, teenagers and adults to check that they are up to date with their MMR vaccines, particularly before they travel this summer and before attending summer festivals where measles can spread more easily.
In recent years the number of children vaccinated against measles has fallen nationally.
Dr Sam Ghebrehewet, Deputy Director of Health Protection from UKHSA North West said: “We’re calling on parents and guardians to make sure their children are up to date with their two MMR doses.
“Measles is a very infectious virus and can spread rapidly among communities if people have not been fully immunised. While most people who catch measles will recover completely within a couple of weeks, it's important to remember measles can be a very serious illness that can leave permanent disability, and occasionally even kill.
“During the COVID-19 pandemic we saw a fall in uptake for the routine childhood vaccinations, including MMR which leaves us vulnerable to outbreaks, especially as people travel abroad for summer holidays to places where measles is more common.
“Anyone who has not had two doses of the Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccination is at risk, and children are especially vulnerable.
“But it’s important to remember that measles is not just a childhood illness and it’s never too late to have the vaccine. Measles can be more severe in young people and adults, often leading to hospital admissions.
“Adults should call their GP practice if they have not received two MMR vaccines or are unsure about their vaccination status, it’s still important to take up the free MMR vaccine now. If you have any questions about your child having the MMR vaccine, please talk to your GP, practice nurse, health visitor or school nurse. If you've not received two doses of the vaccine in the past or you're unsure, speak to your GP practice.”
Tricia Spedding, Regional Head of Public Health at NHS England – North West, said:
“Routine vaccinations are offered for free on the NHS to all babies and children in the UK to give them the best start in life.
“It’s really important they have these as soon as they are offered so they are protected from preventable illnesses at the earliest possible age.”
Measles is a highly infectious viral illness, so anyone with symptoms is advised to stay at home and phone their GP or NHS 111 for advice, before visiting the surgery or A&E, to prevent the illness spreading further.
To check if your child is up to date with their MMR vaccines, check your child’s red book or contact your GP practice. If anyone has missed one or both doses of the MMR vaccine, contact your GP practice to book an appointment. It is never too late to catch up.
Find out more about childhood vaccinations or the symptoms of measles.