London, UK: Young people are encouraged to make sure they have had both doses of the MMR vaccine before going on holiday to Europe where there are large outbreaks of measles, Public Health England says in a press release.
Cases of measles also continue to rise across England in unvaccinated people of this age.
The vaccine is available free to anyone who has not received both doses as a child. It protects against measles, mumps and rubella, all of which can be very serious diseases and are highly infectious.
While vaccine uptake levels in the UK in young children are currently very high, coverage levels dipped to a low of 80% in 2003. This means that there are significant numbers of unprotected teenagers and young adults who could catch measles both in England, particularly in environments of close mixing such as summer festivals and when they travel abroad for the summer holidays.
Measles is a highly infectious viral illness that can sometimes lead to serious complications and can be fatal in very rare cases so getting protected by taking up the offer of vaccination is crucial.
Between 1 January 2018 and 2 July 2018 there have been 738 laboratory confirmed measles cases in England. Cases were reported in most areas with London (262), the South-East (154), South-West (109), West Midlands (84) and Yorkshire and Humberside (76) reporting the most cases (based on provisional figures).
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that to prevent outbreaks of disease, 95% of people need to have received the MMR vaccine.
Dr Mary Ramsay, Head of Immunisation at Public Health England (PHE), said:
“In the early 2000s there was a fall in MMR vaccination coverage in children and as a consequence, we are now seeing measles cases in young adults. Measles can be more serious in adults with a higher likelihood of hospitalisation and complications arising.
Measles is circulating in England and the rest of Europe. We often think about what travel-related vaccines we might need before going on holiday, but it’s also important to check that we are up to date with routine vaccinations like MMR.
If you are unsure if you have had 2 doses of MMR call your GP practice to check and catch up if needed.”
Parents are also urged to take up the offer of MMR vaccination for their children at 1 year old and as a pre-school booster at 3 years and 4 months old.
Public Health England (PHE) is an executive agency of the U.K. Department of Health and Social Care, and a distinct organisation with operational autonomy. We provide government, local government, the NHS, Parliament, industry and the public with evidence-based professional, scientific expertise and support.
Public Health England was established on 1 April 2013 to bring together public health specialists from more than 70 organisations in the U.K. into a single public health service.
Top Four Things Parents Need to Know about Measles
You may be hearing a lot about measles lately. And all of this news on TV, social media, Internet, newspapers and magazines may leave you wondering what you as a parent really need to know about this disease. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC, has put together a list of the most important facts about measles for parents like you.
Measles can be serious.
Some people think of measles as just a little rash and fever that clears up in a few days, but measles can cause serious health complications, especially in children younger than 5 years of age. There is no way to tell in advance the severity of the symptoms your child will experience.
About 1 in 4 people in the U.S. who get measles will be hospitalized
1 out of every 1,000 people with measles will develop brain swelling, which could lead to brain damage
1 or 2 out of 1,000 people with measles will die, even with the best care
Some of the more common measles symptoms include: Fever, Rash Runny nose Red eyes
Measles is very contagious.
Measles spreads through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It is so contagious that if one person has it, 9 out of 10 people around him or her will also become infected if they are not protected. Your child can get measles just by being in a room where a person with measles has been, even up to two hours after that person has left. An infected person can spread measles to others even before knowing he/she has the disease—from four days before developing the measles rash through four days afterward.
Your child can still get measles in United States
Measles was declared eliminated from the U.S. in 2000 thanks to a highly effective vaccination program. Eliminated means that the disease is no longer constantly present in this country. However, measles is still common in many parts of the world, including some countries in Europe, Asia, the Pacific, and Africa. Worldwide, 19 cases of measles per 1 million persons are reported each year and 89,780 people, mostly children, die from the disease.
Even if your family does not travel internationally, you could come into contact with measles anywhere in your community. Every year, measles is brought into the United States by unvaccinated travelers (Americans or foreign visitors) who get measles while they are in other countries. Anyone who is not protected against measles is at risk.
You have the power to protect your child against measles with a safe and effective vaccine.
The best protection against measles is measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine. MMR vaccine provides long-lasting protection against all strains of measles. Your child needs two doses of MMR vaccine for best protection:
The first dose at 12 through 15 months of age
The second dose 4 through 6 years of age
If your family is traveling overseas, the vaccine recommendations are a little different:
If your baby is 6 through 11 months old, he or she should receive 1 dose of MMR vaccine before leaving.
If your child is 12 months of age or older, he or she will need 2 doses of MMR vaccine (separated by at least 28 days) before departure.
How common was measles in the United States before the vaccine?
Before the measles vaccination program started in 1963, about 3 to 4 million people got measles each year in the United States. Of those people, 400 to 500 died, 48,000 were hospitalized, and 4,000 developed encephalitis (brain swelling) from measles.