AN OUTBREAK of measles originating in Solihull has spread to other areas of the West Midlands prompting an urgent vaccination appeal.
Public Health England (PHE) have issued a warning to parents of children under five years old who have missed their measles vaccinations.
Health experts are working with local councils and NHS partners to make sure anyone who needs a vaccination is aware of their importance.
Families will receive a reminder letter from NHS England (West Midlands) and PHE West Midlands this week, asking them to arrange immunisation at their GP surgery.
At the same time, PHE has written to all West Midlands GPs asking them to be on the alert for the symptoms of measles and to take the opportunity to immunise children and adults who may not have received two doses of the MMR (measles) vaccine.
The call comes as the outbreak, which originally focused in Birmingham and Solihull, has now become a West Midlands wide community issue with over 100 cases.
Dr Bharat Sibal, PHE West Midlands lead consultant in communicable disease control, said: “Those affected are all recovering, but it’s important to understand measles can be a very serious illness and lead to severe complications, especially in people who are particularly vulnerable or have other health conditions.
“The current outbreak in the West Midlands has seen 51 per cent of cases admitted to hospital.
“The misery caused by measles is entirely preventable. The free MMR (measles) vaccine is a safe and effective way of protecting against measles, as well as mumps and rubella.
“The ages of people affected ranges from three months to 50 years, however the average age is five years – which is why it’s particularly important for parents to have their children vaccinated when offered.
“The first MMR vaccine is given when the child is one year old, with a booster at three years four months of age, so we are writing to those parents who have missed one or both of those appointments.
“If children and young adults have missed these vaccinations in the past, it’s important to take up the vaccine now from GPs, particularly in light of the rising number of cases in Birmingham and Solihull.
“Check your child’s Red Book to see if they’ve received MMR vaccinations as scheduled, or check with your GP surgery if you’re unsure.”
Symptoms to be aware of include:
– high fever
– sore, red, watery eyes
– aching and feeling generally unwell
– a blotchy red brown rash, which usually appears after the initial symptoms
For more information contact PHE West Midlands press office on 0121 232 9223 Out Of Hours 07834 311 393