Measles warning across England as jab rate decreases

Measles warning across England as jab rate decreases

New data has revealed that more than one in ten school entry-age children in England are at risk of catching measles as the jab rate has decreased.

Coverage for the two doses of MMR that helps protect five-year-olds against measles, mumps and rubella is currently at 85.5%.

That is the lowest for a decade, and well below the 95% target recommended to stop a resurgence of measles.

Measles is highly contagious, more so than Covid, and can cause serious illness.

Nine in every 10 people can catch it if they are unjabbed and exposed.

As well as a distinctive rash, measles can lead to severe complications, such as pneumonia and brain inflammation, and sometimes can be fatal.

Since the start of the Covid pandemic, there has been a concerning drop in the number of children receiving these vaccines on time.

Experts say some parents may not have realised doctors were still offering appointments, or did not want to burden the NHS.

Coverage of the first dose of the MMR vaccine in two-year-olds has now fallen below 90%. This means that more than one in 10 children under the age of five are not fully protected from measles and are at risk of catching it.

Among all five-year-olds in England, 93.7% have had one dose and 85.5% have had the recommended two doses.

In 2017 the World Health Oganisation declared that the UK had eradictaed the illness but this status was lost after cases increased in 2018. England and Wales confirmed 991 new cases compared with 284 in 2017.

Measles cases have plummeted during the Covid pandemic, largely because of social distancing and less travel.

But the UK Health Security Agency is concerned that measles could make a comeback in the unvaccinated when restrictions are fully lifted.

It is asking parents and carers to make sure children are up to date with their jabs.

The MMR vaccine is free on the NHS when a child turns one, with a second dose offered at about three-and-a-half, before they start nursery or school.

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Ellie joined Gi Media in July 2021.