Just like other areas of the country Wiltshire has seen an increase in measles cases in the last few months. Since the beginning of April there have been 12 confirmed cases of measles across the county and further possible cases continue to be investigated.
The measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine is the safest and most effective way to protect against measles. Measles is highly infectious – just 15 minutes of contact is enough to pass it on. It can also be particularly unpleasant, potentially leading to serious complications, including hearing problems, blindness and even death.
Too many children and young people in Wiltshire remain susceptible to measles infection with up to 6,000 children and young people aged 5-18 potentially at risk of catching measles, mumps and rubella due to being either partially or completely unimmunised.
Two doses of MMR are essential to ensure protection and following the increase in cases of measles across the country a national catch up programme for MMR vaccination targeting 10 to 16 year olds has been launched through GP practices. This is because we know that children aged 10 to 16 years are among those at greatest risk of being unimmunised due to the dip in MMR coverage that occurred in the late 1990’s when concern around the now discredited link between autism and the vaccine was at its highest. However locally we also want to ensure younger children who missed out on their routine childhood MMR vaccinations also get protected and parents are advised to proactively arrange MMR vaccination for their children.
It is never too late to protect your child against measles, mumps and rubella. Parents should contact their GP to arrange vaccination for any children who have not been vaccinated as a priority to ensure they are protected against measles. GP practices will also be starting to invite 10 to 16 year olds who have not received two doses of MMR to attend for vaccination over the coming weeks. However if people are concerned about their immunisation status they should not wait to receive a letter before they come forward.
For more information visit www.nhs.uk/mmr