PARENTS in the West Midlands are being urged to check children are up to date with their MMR vaccinations, as data published by UKHSA shows the number of measles cases so far in 2023 is already approaching the figure for the whole of 2022.
Between January 1 and April 20 this year there have been 49 cases of measles compared to 54 cases in the whole of 2022.
Caryn Cox, health protection consultant leading on vaccine preventable diseases for UKHSA West Midlands, said: “Measles is a highly infectious disease with symptoms including a high fever, sore, red watery eyes, and a blotchy red-brown rash.
“The infection can lead to serious complications such as pneumonia, meningitis, and on rare occasions, disability or death.
“During the pandemic we saw a fall in uptake for routine childhood vaccinations, including MMR – so while it’s very concerning to see a rise in cases this year, it’s not completely unexpected, as reduced vaccine uptake has left us more vulnerable to outbreaks.
“Measles can spread quickly in environments where unvaccinated people are in close contact.
“As we enter festival and holiday season, with more people mixing and travelling abroad to places where the disease is more common, there’s a risk we could see many more cases across the country if people aren’t up to date with their MMR vaccinations.”
During the COVID-19 pandemic uptake for routine childhood immunisations has fallen globally leaving many children unprotected from serious infections and countries at increased risk of outbreaks.
Ms Cox added: “The MMR vaccine is safe, effective, and free of charge from the NHS, no matter what your age.
“You need two doses to ensure you’re completely protected, but it’s never too late to catch up.
” If you’re not sure that everyone in your family is up to date with their MMR vaccinations – which protects against measles, mumps and rubella – check with your GP surgery, or you may be able to access records through online GP services.”