Health care experts warn that measles cases are expected to increase rapidly unless more people are vaccinated.
Alarmingly, over four million parents and guardians, along with numerous young adults, have been contacted due to missed doses of the measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine for themselves or their children.
What is measles and what are the symptoms?
Measles, a highly contagious disease transmitted through coughs and sneezes, presents with symptoms such as:
- high fever
- sore, red and watery eyes
- Small white spots may appear inside the mouth.
People with measles also get white spots in their mouth and a red rash, which starts on the face and spreads to the body. The rash might be harder to see on dark skin.
Measles usually goes away in about a week or two, but it can lead to serious problems like pneumonia or meningitis, especially in babies, pregnant women, and people with weak immune systems.
Can adults get measles?
You can catch measles at any age. If you catch it while pregnant, the disease can lead to stillbirth, miscarriage or babies being born small.
Can I catch measles twice?
It is possible, but happens rarely. Your body usually becomes immune to measles after the first time you catch it
What are the side effects of the MMR vaccine?
Most people who get the MMR vaccine do not have any serious problems with it. Getting an MMR vaccine is much safer than getting measles, mumps, or rubella.
Common side effects:
- Sore arm from the shot
- Mild rash
- Temporary pain and stiffness in the joints, mostly in teenage or adult women who did not already have immunity to the rubella component of the vaccine
How common is measles, and where are the worst outbreaks?
In 2023, measles cases dramatically increased in England and Wales, signaling a concerning public health trend. The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) reported a significant surge to 1,603 suspected measles cases, a substantial increase from the 735 cases in 2022 and 360 cases in 2021.
The West Midlands region, with Birmingham at the epicenter, emerged as the most affected area, recording over 200 cases in recent months.
Additionally, London experienced outbreaks with only 74% of five-year-olds in the city having received both doses of the MMR vaccine. In specific areas like Hackney in East London, the situation is more dire, with nearly half of the children under five years old not fully vaccinated against measles.
Beyond these major hotspots, England has witnessed smaller, yet notable clusters of measles cases in various locations.
On a broader scale, the World Health Organization (WHO) has expressed deep concern over the measles situation across Europe. The year 2023 saw a staggering 30-fold increase in measles cases continent-wide, with over 30,000 people infected. This figure stands in stark contrast to the 941 cases recorded throughout 2022, highlighting a rapid spread of this infectious disease
Why are measles cases rising?
There’s a growing concern about measles because not enough young kids are getting the MMR vaccine. This vaccine protects against measles, mumps, and rubella.
The World Health Organization (WHO) says 95% of kids need to have two doses of this vaccine to keep measles away. But right now, only about 85% of kids had both doses by their fifth birthday in 2022-23. That’s the lowest it’s been since 2010-11.
In big cities like Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham, and Nottingham, the situation is worse – only 75% of five-year-olds are fully vaccinated, according to NHS data. This means in England, over 3.4 million children under 16 aren’t protected against measles.
The problem isn’t just in England. Across Europe, less kids are getting vaccinated, putting over 1.8 million children at risk.
Experts think one reason for this is that some parents don’t realise how serious measles can be. Since it was almost wiped out before, they might not think it’s important to vaccinate their kids. Also, during the Covid pandemic, lots of regular health check-ups were missed.
There’s still a false belief among some people that the MMR vaccine can cause autism. This idea was popular when today’s young adults were kids, so many of them didn’t get vaccinated.
Where can I get MMR Vaccine in Leeds?
You can get MMR vaccination at The Care Pharmacy Vaccination Clinic in Leeds. Book your appointment today and get free consultation, our team of experts are here to address all your questions and concerns.