Measles rise prompts appeal to parents to take up vaccinations

PARENTS are being urged to get their children vaccinated for measles, mumps and rubella following outbreaks of measles across Europe.

The appeal comes on the same day figures showed that there had been 231 confirmed cases of measles and 795 mumps cases in the first three months of 2019.

The Public Health England (PHE) data showed that while measles cases were lower than the 265 cases during the same period last year, they had more than doubled compared with the 97 cases reported between October and December.

Mumps cases nearly tripled to 795 compared to 275 during the same period last year, with no new cases of rubella reported. PHE has urged parents to make sure their children receive the MMR vaccine when offered it or to take it up now if it was missed.

Dr Mary Ramsay, the head of immunisation at PHE, warned that with measles outbreaks across parts of Europe families should make sure they are vaccinated before they travel.

“Measles can kill and it is incredibly easy to catch, especially if you are not vaccinated,” she said. “Even one child missing their vaccine is one too many – if you are in any doubt about your child’s vaccination status, ask your GP as it’s never too late to get protected.”

There have been 3,789 cases of measles across the continent during the first three months of this year according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, with concentrations in Romania, France, Poland and Lithuania.

PHE warned that because measles is highly infectious, anyone who had not received two doses of MMR vaccine was at risk. Unvaccinated people travelling to countries where there have been large outbreaks of measles are particularly at risk, it added.

Seema Kennedy, the public health minister, said: “Over 30 years ago we introduced the MMR vaccine and since then our world-leading vaccination programme is estimated to have prevented 1.8 million painful and potentially fatal cases of measles. No child or young person should have to suffer.”

Grahame White