With measles and mumps circulating, particularly among those who are not vaccinated and consequently most at risk – including children and young people – it is crucial to make sure you and your family are up to date with your vaccine, writes Dr Jonty Heaversedge is a GP at Manor Place Surgery and Chair of NHS Southwark Clinical Commissioning Group…
A few years ago, the World Health Organisation declared that measles had been ‘eliminated’ in the UK.
In other words, this meant that cases of measles were at a low enough level to stop the infection spreading through the population.
This was hailed, quite rightly, as a big achievement for the NHS and healthcare professionals – and a testament to the effectiveness of the MMR (Measles, Mumps and Rubella) vaccination.
Yet just last month, Public Heath England issued a stark warning that there has been a ‘significant increase’ in the number of measles and mumps cases across central and west London.
The rise in cases occurred primarily in under-vaccinated communities, particularly those with links to other countries with ongoing measles outbreaks.
Indeed, last year measles infections in Europe hit a 10-year high – again, a result of hesitancy over immunisation.
With measles and mumps circulating, particularly among those who are not vaccinated and consequently most at risk – including children and young people – it is crucial to make sure you and your family are up to date with your MMR vaccine.
Two doses of the MMR vaccine offers you, your family and friends the best protection. For example, those people who’ve had both the first and second dose of the vaccine are 99% protected against measles.
If you are unsure as to whether you or a family member have had the two doses, you can check with your GP.
Remember, it’s never too late to be vaccinated.
This is particularly key for anyone attending mass gatherings this summer, such as music or literary festivals, as these can be hotspots for measles and mumps due to the ease with which infection can spread.
It’s also important to be vigilant in knowing and spotting the signs of the conditions.
Measles is highly infectious, often deeply unpleasant, and can cause serious – even fatal – complications, especially if one is not vaccinated. Symptoms include fever, sore red eyes and a rash.
Cases of mumps are also more prevalent where large groups mix closely, such as at festivals and universities. Its symptoms include painful swellings at the side of the face under the ears, headaches, joint pain and a high temperature.
If you’re worried that you or someone you know may have measles or mumps, speak to your GP surgery or call 111.
For more information about the MMR vaccine, please visit www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinations/mmr-vaccine