Measles: Health bosses' warning after outbreak of measles confirmed in Yorkshire

Health bosses are warning people to make sure their vaccinations are up to date after an outbreak of measles has been confirmed in Yorkshire.

Latest figures from the UK Health Security Agency shows 37 cases of measles have been reported in Yorkshire and Humber between last October and this week, extending beyond the initial outbreak hotspot in the West Midlands.

Professor Andrew Lee, Deputy Director for UKHSA Yorkshire and Humber, said: “MMR vaccine coverage has been falling for the last decade with 1 out of 10 children starting school in England not protected and so there is a real risk that this outbreak could spread more widely across the Yorkshire and Humber.

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“The recent rise in cases is worrying, but measles is a preventable disease, and two doses of the vaccine is enough to give lifelong protection, so please take up the offer of vaccination if your child has yet to have one, or both of the vaccines."

Health bosses are encouraging people to ensure they have their measles jabHealth bosses are encouraging people to ensure they have their measles jab
Health bosses are encouraging people to ensure they have their measles jab

Dr Philip Kirby, NHS England Screening and Immunisation Lead for Yorkshire and the Humber added: “Last week, thousands of Yorkshire and Humber school-aged children, who are yet to have one or both of the MMR vaccines, started to receive invitations from the NHS to book a catch-up appointment.

“Ensuring yourself and your child are fully vaccinated against measles is really important. It not only protects you and your family against the illness, but it also protects those who you come into contact with who may be vulnerable – such as babies, toddlers and the elderly.”

The warning came after cases were also found in London, the North West, and the East Midlands.

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Health officials said hundreds of thousands of children in England are unvaccinated against the disease and “remain at risk of serious complications or life-long disability”.

There have been an additional 56 cases in the last week, according to UKHSA data, bringing the total number since October last year to 521.

The UKHSA said cases in Birmingham “appear to be stabilising”.

Health officials have urged parents to get the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine for their children.

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Measles can lead to serious complications, lifelong disability and death.

It can affect the lungs and brain and cause pneumonia, meningitis, blindness and seizures.

Vaccination rates across the country have been dropping, but there are particular concerns about some regions, including parts of London and the West Midlands.

Dr Kirby added: “Since the introduction of the first measles vaccine in 1968 into the routine childhood immunisation programme it is estimated that more than 20 million cases and 4,500 deaths have been averted in the UK. Unfortunately, following a decade long trend of a fall in childhood vaccine uptake we are now seeing a resurgence of measles.”

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Symptoms of measles appear seven to 10 days after contact with the virus and spreads very easily among those who are unvaccinated, especially in nurseries and schools. People in certain groups, including babies, pregnant women, and people with weakened immunity, are at increased risk of complications from measles.

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