Mother of 10-year-old who died after contracting Measles urges parents to get children vaccinated

  • A video report by Granada Reports Correspondent Mel Barham

A mother whose child died from complications caused by Measles is urging parents to get their children vaccinated.

Rebecca Archer's 10-year-old daughter Renae caught the infection at just five months old and was too young to be vaccinated.

She had seemingly recovered and gone on to have the MMR vaccine as part of her routine immunisations.

But a decade later, she developed a rare brain disease that was triggered by her previous measles infection which had laid dormant for all that time and died in September 2023.

Rebecca said: "Renae was my best friend, she was my first born, she was my life. I just lost a big part of me and just trying to live without Renae is really difficult."

At 10 years old Renae developed a rare brain disease triggered by her previous measles infection. Credit: Rebecca Archer

Rebecca said Renae's health deteriorated to the point where she was unable to eat or keep her eyes open.

"It took three days for Renae to stop breathing and I think that was the worst. It was just horrendous watching her."

Measles cases have been steadily rising across the country since October 2023, with most cases being in the North West and the West Midlands.

Rebecca's daughter Renae contracted measles when she was just five months old. Credit: Rebecca Archer

The uptake of the Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccine in the North West of England amongst children is 85.2% – this figure is significantly lower than the World Health Organisation target of 95%.

Rebecca said: "She lost her life needlessly. I think every child should be vaccinated and it's the fact that they are not vaccinated is the reason why there are cases like Renae's happen. She could still be with us now."

Measles cases have been steadily rising across the country since October 2023, with most cases being in the North West and the West Midlands.

Measles symptoms include a high fever, coughing, aching and feeling generally unwell and a rash, which can appear after the initial symptoms

Dr Paula Cowan, North West Regional Medical Director for Primary Care said: "Recent data shows that we currently have 34 confirmed cases of Measles in the North West, which is the highest that we have seen for some time."

Professor Dame Jenny Harries, Head of the UK Health Security Agency said: "I think that for many parents they think that it is a forgotten disease and it's a very real threat.

"Many of these children will go to hospital and some of them may have injuries and disabilities and in very rare a death will occur."

Dr Stephen Hughes, Consultant Paediatric Immunologist at Manchester Children's Hospital said: "Measles it probably one of the most infectious viruses. So when it comes to class, you would sort of expect everybody else to take measles home if nobody was protected.

"So protect my patients who are immune compromised, the best way is to make sure that everybody else has had their vaccine."

Rebecca said: "I didn't know before Renae got poorly how important vaccinations were and if other people would have had them, it could have prevented Renae from passing away."

Rebecca is urging parents to listen to her story and get the jab not only to keep their own children safe but to stop others like Renae from losing their lives.

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.