Parents encouraged to vaccinate children against MMR as NHS figures reveal low uptake

Parents are being encouraged to make sure their children are fully vaccinated or to get their first MMR vaccine.

It comes as NHS figures reveal low uptake and a rise in measles cases across the country.

From 1 January to 20 April 2023, there have been 49 lab-confirmed measles cases in England.

In the North West region, there has been one lab-confirmed measles case.

In the North West there has been one lab-confirmed measles case. Credit: ITV News

Measles is a highly infectious and can lead to serious problems such as pneumonia, meningitis, and on rare occasions, long-term disability or death.

The disease is particularly easy to catch in environments when in close contact with others.

Symptoms include of measles include:

  • Cold-like symptoms, such as a runny nose, sneezing and a cough

  • Watery eyes, swollen eyelids and red eyes that may be sensitive to light

  • A high temperature (fever), which may reach around 40 degrees celsius

  • Small greyish-white spots in the mouth

  • Tiredness, aches and pains, irritability and a general lack of energy

  • A measles rash appears around 2 to 4 days after initial symptoms and normally fades after about a week

Dr Helen Wall joined Gamal Fahnbulleh and Zoe Muldoon in the Granada Reports studio

In the North West, uptake of both doses of the vaccine by age five was below 90% in more than half of local authorities in the region and less than 80% in some areas.

Liverpool City Region has the lowest uptake with 76% of children having had both jabs by five years old.

Cumbria has the highest uptake with over 93% of children having had both by their fifth birthday.

Credit: ITV Granada Reports

Dr Sam Ghebrehewet, Deputy Director of Health Protection from UKHSA North West said: "While most people who catch measles will recover completely within a couple of weeks, it's important to remember measles can be a very serious illness that can leave permanent disability, and occasionally even kill.

“During the COVID-19 pandemic we saw a fall in uptake for the routine childhood vaccinations, including MMR which leaves us vulnerable to outbreaks, especially as people travel abroad for summer holidays to places where measles is more common.

“But it’s important to remember that measles is not just a childhood illness and it’s never too late to have the vaccine. Measles can be more severe in young people and adults, often leading to hospital admissions."

A measles rash appears around 2 to 4 days after initial symptoms and normally fades after about a week. Credit: PA Images

Tricia Spedding, Regional Head of Public Health at NHS England North West, said: “Routine vaccinations are offered for free on the NHS to all babies and children in the UK to give them the best start in life.

“It’s really important they have these as soon as they are offered so they are protected from preventable illnesses at the earliest possible age.

“We recommend that parents whose children are due to start school this September make sure they’ve had all of their routine vaccinations first."

Further information about measles can be found on the NHS website. 

You can read more about the MMR vaccine online.

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