North West NHS drive to get kids vaccinated as measles rates rise

The call from the NHS comes as figures show a fifth of children haven't been immunised in parts of the North West.

The NHS in the North West is calling on parents to get their kids immunised against measles as rates of the condition rise, and vaccinations fall.

NHS teams in the North West are stepping up efforts to get more children protected with the MMR vaccine.

Uptake of both doses of the vaccine, which is usually given to children aged one and then a second vaccine at around three years and four months, is 85.2% in the North West.

But in some areas it is lower than 80%, significantly lower than the World Health Organisation target of 95% coverage with two doses of MMR vaccine by five-years-old.

Initiatives being put in place in the region alongside a national call/recall of all children aged six to 11 who are not fully vaccinated include:

  • the introduction of vaccine catch-up clinics in general practice, including evening and weekend sessions

  • roving and outreach vaccine clinics in the community, including the Living Well Bus in Cheshire and Merseyside

  • extra vaccination sessions being put on by school aged immunisation providers in schools in some areas where uptake is lower

  • more than 40 community pharmacies being able to offer the MMR vaccine for the first time to run catch up sessions for children aged 5+

In addition, GPs are continuing to call those aged 12 months to five for vaccination and parents of children who are due or have missed their MMR vaccines are being urged to come forward as soon as possible.

The vaccine should be given in early childhood, but in some areas uptake is only 80 per cent

Dr Linda Charles-Ozuzu, Regional Director of Commissioning for England North West, said: “As we continue to see more clusters of measles cases in the North West, we’re driving up our efforts to increase MMR vaccine uptake.

"We want to make sure children who are due or have missed doses of MMR can get protected as quickly and easily as possible and that means putting on additional clinics in general practice, offering the vaccine in some pharmacies and getting teams out into local communities to offer the vaccine.

“Measles is a preventable disease that can cause serious illness leading to complications, with one in five children who catch it needing a hospital visit, so it’s vital that parents make sure their children have both doses of MMR as soon as they are invited. To check if your child is vaccinated or to book an appointment, contact your GP practice.”

Measles can start out with a runny nose and a cough, and so can be easy to miss until a rash forms.

Measles symptoms include:

  • high fever

  • sore, red, watery eyes

  • coughing

  • aching and feeling generally unwell

  • a blotchy red brown rash, which usually appears after the initial symptoms.

If people develop any symptoms of measles, they should contact their GP by phone. Please do not go to your GP, walk-in centre or any other healthcare setting without calling ahead, as measles is very infectious and so arrangements can be made to prevent others from being infected.