Woman who has lasting health issues from measles urges people to get jab

  • Ellie Roscoe says she's lucky to be alive after she contracted measles.

A woman who caught measles in her early twenties and now has ongoing health issues as a result is urging people who aren't fully vaccinated to get the jab.

Ellie Roscoe, from Birmingham, only had the first of two MMR jabs when she was a baby due to scares that were proven to be false over its links to autism.

Ellie was admitted to hospital when she was 23 after she fell severely ill with the virus - six years later she is still feeling the impact of the virus.

Ellie was rushed to Heartlands Hospital and without the treatment she received she says she "wouldn't be here" after the highly contagious disease had spread to her lungs and liver.

"It was a severe case of measles that I had", says Ellie. "I was very unwell when I was taken into Heartlands. I don't remember the journey to hospital. The team were fantastic, without them I wouldn't be here".

Debbie, Ellie's mum, says there wasn't the knowledge and understanding of vaccines thirty years ago and she's encouraging others not to listen to scaremongering.

"Go and get some information and please, please, please don't take the chance with your child", she says.

Their warnings come as cases of the highly contagious virus dramatically rise in the West Midlands and The UKHSA has declared a national incident.

  • UKHSA has declared a national incident following to rise in cases.

Professor Dame Jenny Harries, chief executive of the UKHSA, warned measles is spreading among unvaccinated communities, and urged parents to check whether their children have had the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) jab.

During her visit to Birmingham’s UKHSA laboratory at Heartlands Hospital on Friday, she said: “That’s one of the reasons why I have come to Birmingham today, because I know there is huge effort by local partners to try and contain the spread of measles but it is highly contagious, it is one of the most contagious respiratory virus diseases that we deal with routinely.

“We need to build up vaccination coverage so each new age group coming through systematically attains that 95% coverage and that will protect all of us, both those who have had the vaccine and the very few who are perhaps immunocompromised for whatever reason, or perhaps very small children under six months who cannot have the vaccine.”

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

Figures released by the UKHSA show there have been 216 confirmed measles cases and 103 probable cases in the West Midlands since October 1 last year.

Four-fifths (80%) have been found in Birmingham while 10% were identified in Coventry, with the majority being in children aged under 10.

The UKHSA has declared a national incident, which it said is an internal mechanism signalling the growing public health risk and enabling it to focus work in specific areas.

Dame Jenny said she was “not generally in favour” of making the vaccinations mandatory for children before they reach school age.

She said: “We have a number of different vaccine programmes that are highly effective and the MMR vaccine is 99% effective against clinical disease.

“This is a really well tried, well trusted and highly effective vaccine, but we have never had, in our routine childhood population programmes, a mandatory programme.

“For me personally, it is really important that families trust the information because we will have new vaccines coming on board and it is important they can see individuals in their own communities coming forward, that we have trials and studies of vaccines which are representing the population that they recognise for themselves.

“I’m not generally in favour of (mandatory vaccines for children), it is not something we have generally in the UK, but nevertheless, for healthcare professionals particularly, we have a responsibility and a duty to protect our patients, so certainly for me, I would always go forward for vaccination.”

Official figures show uptake of the vaccine is at its lowest point in over a decade and in the West Midlands, vaccine rates are down to 81%.

When asked which communities are most affected, Professor Harries said: “This is an important point, I think for the West Midlands, for those in Muslim communities, they will be not keen to take up one of the MMR vaccines that we offer which has a pork-based derivative.

“But it’s really important that they’re aware there is a non-porcine vaccine which is available to them and very effective.

“So it’s that sort of understanding and ensuring that knowledge is available to people so they can make choices.”

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know...