A new campaign warns parents and guardians of the serious risk to children’s health from measles, reminding people to ensure their children are protected by 2 doses of MMR vaccine.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, in March 2020, there has been a significant drop in the numbers getting their children vaccinated against MMR and other childhood vaccines at the right time. Coverage of the first dose of the MMR vaccine in 2 year olds has dropped below 90%. Coverage for the 2 doses of MMR vaccine in 5 year olds in England is currently 85.5%, well below the 95% World Health Organization’s target needed to achieve and sustain measles elimination. This means that more than 1 in 10 children under the age of 5 are not fully protected from measles and are at risk of catching it.
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‘The MMR vaccine offers the best protection from measles, mumps and rubella, which is why we’re calling on parents and carers to make sure their children are up to date with their 2 doses,’ said Dr Vanessa Saliba, Consultant Epidemiologist at UKHSA.
‘Even a small drop in vaccine coverage can have a big impact on population immunity levels and lead to outbreaks. I would urge parents to check if their children are up to date with their MMR vaccines and if not to get them booked in as soon as they are able. It’s never too late to catch up.’
Out of 2,000 parents and guardians of children aged 5 and under, almost half (48%) are not aware that measles can lead to serious complications such as pneumonia and brain inflammation, while only 4 in 10 (38%) are aware measles can be fatal, and more than half of parents (56%) are not aware that 2 doses of the MMR vaccine gives 99% protection against measles and rubella.
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‘It is incredibly important that all parents and guardians ensure their child is up to date with their routine vaccinations, including MMR, as these vaccines give children crucial protection against serious and potentially deadly illnesses and stop outbreaks in the community,’ said Dr Nikki Kanani, GP and medical director for primary care at NHS England.
‘If your child has missed a vaccination, please contact your GP practice to book an appointment as soon as you can to make sure they have maximum protection against disease.’