Measles surge leads to call for back-to-school jabs

Measles infections are continuing to rise and parents must ensure children have had both MMR jabs before returning to school, the Health Protection Agency (HPA) has said.

Twice as many confirmed cases of measles were recorded in the first six months of 2012 as in the same period in 2011. The HPA said that poor uptake of MMR immunisation may be contributing to the rise in cases.

There were 964 confirmed cases of measles in January to June 2012, compared with 497 cases January to June 2011. Across the whole of 2011, there were 1,086 cases reported, almost three times the 380 cases reported across the whole of 2010.

The HPA said that rubella cases have also risen, with 57 reported between January and June this year, more than the total number of cases occurring in each year since 2002. DH advisors have previously warned that mumps cases can be expected begin to surge from the autumn.

UK MMR uptake levels fell from above 90% to less than 80% (see graph) after a February 1998 Lancet paper by former surgeon Andrew Wakefield claimed the vaccine was linked to the development of autism.

Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunisation at the HPA, said the continued rise in measles cases was ‘extremely concerning’.

‘Measles can be very serious and parents should understand the risks associated with the infection, which in severe cases can result in death,’ she said.

Although uptake of the MMR has improved in recent years some children do not get vaccinated on time and some older children, who missed out when uptake was lower, have not had a chance to catch-up. Therefore, there are still enough people who are not protected to allow some large outbreaks to occur among unvaccinated individuals.’

She added: ‘It’s vital that children receive both doses of the MMR vaccination and ahead of returning to school after the holidays, we are urging parents to ensure their children have received the two doses, which will provide the best protection against the risks associated with measles, mumps and rubella.

‘If you are unsure if your child has had two doses of the vaccination, speak to your GP who will have a record of which vaccinations your child has received.’

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins


Already registered?

Sign in

Follow Us:

Just published

Health and social care secretary Steve Barclay

Government denies antibiotic shortage despite warnings from GPs and suppliers

The government has insisted there is no shortage of antibiotics despite GPs and pharmacists...

GP waiting room

Strep A drives surge in GP demand on top of record appointments

Some GPs are reporting the highest levels of patient demand they have ever seen as...

Mobile phone

GPs urge caution over plan for NHS health checks to go digital

GP leaders have warned that changes to the NHS health checks programme must be evidence-based...

Debbie Boughtflower

How career coaching can transform the lives of veterans

GPs across England and Wales can refer patients who used to work in the armed forces...

RCGP chair Professor Kamila Hawthorne

RCGP raises 'major concerns' over practice-level appointments data

The RCGP has written to health and social care secretary Steve Barclay warning that...

Labour shadow health and social care secretary Wes Streeting

GPs condemn 'ignorant' Labour rhetoric over access to appointments

Doctors' leaders have accused the Labour party of 'demonising' GPs after it claimed...