Measles Outbreak Sparks Vaccine Campaign In UK

Following data showing over 250 confirmed measles cases in various regions of England last year, the National Health Service is initiating an awareness campaign.

The West Midlands has had the most significant number of measles cases since the mid-1990s and the disease has spread throughout the nation, even to London.

The dramatic spike in outbreaks comes amid the worst vaccination rates in ten years. Health officials in the United Kingdom pleaded with millions of parents on Monday to schedule their children’s missing rubella, mumps, and measles injections.

Children under the age of ten accounted for the majority of instances.

In the United Kingdom, children are provided the MMR vaccine—a combination of measles, mumps, and rubella—in two doses, the first at 12 months and the second at three years of age. Jenny Harries, chief executive of the United Kingdom’s Health Security Agency, said that vaccination rates have fallen to 85% overall and significantly lower in many areas of London.

According to Harries, the World Health Organization recommends a level of around 95% coverage, which is still too low to maintain safe population coverage.

Public health experts say almost 3.4 million children under the age of 16 do not have protection and are thus in danger of contracting these avoidable diseases. They have warned that more outbreaks might happen in other cities and towns unless the MMR vaccination is more widely used in high-risk locations, prompting the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) to declare a national emergency.

The new initiative aims to get six- to eleven-year-olds who may have missed a shot vaccinated by encouraging their parents or guardians to schedule an appointment at their child’s primary care physician’s office. It will also target slightly more than one million individuals in the age bracket of eleven to twenty-five in the Greater London Area and the West Midlands to get their missed shots.

Although there is no cure for measles, the disease is entirely preventable.

After two doses of the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccination, experts say nearly everyone is protected.

A lifetime of protection against measles is achieved with just two injections.