Following an increase in cases across the country, health partners in Dorset are asking parents and carers to ensure their children are protected against measles.
Measles is an infection that spreads very easily and can lead to serious illness and complications.
Whilst there are currently no outbreaks of measles locally in Dorset, a steep rise in cases in the West Midlands, has seen the UK Health Security Agency warn that further outbreaks could spread to other areas.
The measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine is a routine childhood vaccination, so most children will be vaccinated against measles. The MMR vaccine is highly effective and after 2 doses 99% of people will be protected against measles.
If you or your child have missed one or both MMR doses, you can catch up at any age. Contact your GP practice to book your free appointment. If you aren’t sure if you have had the MMR vaccination you can ask at your GP practice.
There is no specific medical treatment for measles, so vaccination is the best protection. Certain groups, including babies, young children and pregnant women, are at greater risk from complications.
Chief Medical Officer for NHS Dorset, Dr Paul Johnson said “We are fortunate that in Dorset we currently do not have any outbreaks of measles, however I would ask any parents or carers who are aware their child is not protected to speak to their GP or contact 111 either online or by phone for advice.
“Measles is a serious illness, which sees one in five children with disease having to be admitted to hospital for treatment, so if you or your child have not had your MMR jab, please do so at the earliest opportunity.”
Rachel Partridge, Deputy Director of Public Health for Dorset and BCP Councils, said “The sharp rise in measles cases in other parts of the country is a reminder of how quickly this virus spreads, and it’s a concern because measles can cause serious complications in some people. We have a highly effective MMR vaccine which provides lifelong protection against measles after two doses, but we have seen vaccination rates declining in recent years.
“MMR is a routine childhood vaccination, so the good news is most people will already be protected. You can catch up on your MMR vaccine at any time, so if you or your child has missed yours or you’re not sure if you’re vaccinated, please speak to your GP practice.”
Public Health Dorset
NHS advice on measles: Measles – NHS (www.nhs.uk)
Guidance for parents and carers: What to do if you think your child has measles and when to keep them off school – The Education Hub (blog.gov.uk)