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It’s never too late to get your measles jab!

1:04 pm, Wednesday, 31st January 2024 - 4 weeks ago

General

HEALTH leaders in North and North East Lincolnshire are urging people to come forward for vaccinations to avoid outbreaks of measles in the future.

And they want to highlight how the MMR (Measles, Mumps and Rubella) vaccine is available for people of any age who have not previously received full vaccination protection against measles. Whether they have never had it, or have missed one dose, people should contact their GP as it will help in the fight against measles.

One in 12 children aged five to 15 in our area remain at risk because they are not fully vaccinated. And whilst cases of measles remain low in North East Lincolnshire, with none reported to public health chiefs in the last decade, there is a fear that this situation could reverse if vaccination rates do not rise.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) – alarmed at the spread of measles in the Midlands, which has seen hundreds of cases – says further outbreaks of the disease could spread to other towns and cities unless urgent action is taken to increase MMR vaccination uptake in areas at greatest risk.

The measles virus is pictured

Diane Lee, Director of Public Health at North and North East Lincolnshire Councils, said: “Children who get measles can be very poorly and some will suffer life changing complications. The best way for parents to protect their children from measles is the MMR vaccine. I’d also recommend that all adults in our area should check their vaccination status with their GP. Two doses of the MMR vaccine give lifelong protection and it’s never too late to catch up.”

Diane added: “Measles spreads very easily among those who are unvaccinated, especially in nurseries and schools. It can be a very unpleasant illness and for some children can be very serious, leading to hospitalisation and tragically even death in rare cases. People in certain at-risk groups including babies and young children, pregnant women, and people with weakened immunity, are at increased risk of complications from measles.”

More than 99 per cent of people who have two doses of the MMR vaccine will be protected against measles and rubella. The vaccine also provides protection against mumps, which can be very painful with complications including inflammation of the ovaries and testicles, and in rare cases, the pancreas.

Although mumps protection is slightly lower, cases in vaccinated people are much less severe, highlighting the importance of the MMR vaccination.

Jack Lewis, consultant in public health with the Humber and North Yorkshire Health and Care Partnership, added: “While we would strongly urge parents to make arrangements for their child to be vaccinated, it’s worth emphasising the MMR vaccine isn’t just for children.

“It is important at any age, particularly if you have a weakened immune system or long-term health condition.

“So, if you or your child are not fully vaccinated, please make an appointment with your GP practice to catch up on any missing vaccinations.”

Cllr Stan Shreeve, the Portfolio Holder for Health, Wellbeing and Adult Social Care in North East Lincolnshire, added: “I cannot stress enough the importance of what our health experts locally are saying. Our children are best protected if advice is followed, whilst adults should be reminded of the need to be fully protected.”

More about measles and the jab

Measles is very contagious and nine out of 10 unvaccinated people can become infected if in a close environment with to an infected person. One in five measles cases may require a hospital visit, and one in 15 measles cases could cause complications such as meningitis, sepsis and blindness.

The Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR) jab, is delivered in two doses, the first given at 12 months, and the second at about three years and four months, before children start school.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends two-dose vaccination coverage of at least 95% of the population because measles is highly infectious and spreads easily. Antibodies from a previous infection provide protection against measles.

Across large parts of England, vaccination rates are below this recommended threshold.

Nationally, the NHS has been sending out invite reminders to parents and guardians with children aged one to five years who are missing a first or second MMR vaccination.

It is expanding this national invitation and reminder scheme in the next few weeks, by inviting those aged six to 11 years old who are missing their first or second MMR vaccination. Over February and March, the NHS will be inviting around one million children via their parents and guardians.

General practices in England are also participating in a national vaccination and immunisation MMR catch-up campaign. From November 2023 to March 2024, practices are issuing local invitations for those eligible between 12 months and five years old but also up to 25 years old are able to catch up if they haven’t had the MMR vaccine.

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