Mumps cases in England hit decade high

Public Health England and NHS England urge people to ensure they have two doses of MMR vaccine as mumps cases rise to highest levels in a decade.

Data shows that there were 5,042 lab-confirmed cases of mumps in England in 2019, compared to 1,066 cases in 2018. The figure is the highest number of cases since 2009, with the rise set to continue this year, with 546 confirmed cases in January 2020 compared to 191 during the same period last year.

According to PHE, many of the cases last year were seen in the so-called ‘Wakefield cohorts’ – young adults born in the late 1990s and early 2000s who missed out on the MMR vaccine when they were children. These cohorts are now old enough to attend college and university and are likely to continue fuelling outbreaks into 2020.

PHE and NHS England have recently launched an MMR catch-up programme for children aged 10 to 11 years old to ensure they are fully vaccinated if they missed out in childhood.

Dr Vanessa Saliba, Consultant Epidemiologist at Public Health England, said: “The best protection against mumps and its complications is to have two doses of the MMR vaccine. It’s never too late to catch up. We encourage all students and young people who may have missed out on their MMR vaccine in the past to contact their GP practice and get up to date as soon as possible.”

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “The rise in mumps cases is alarming and yet another example of the long-term damage caused by anti-vax information. Science proves that vaccines are the best form of defence against a host of potentially deadly diseases and are safer and more effective than ever before. Those who claim otherwise are risking people’s lives. Our vaccine strategy will soon be published outlining how we will increase uptake, limit the spread of vaccine misinformation and ensure every child receives two doses of their MMR vaccination. Anyone who is unsure whether they are fully covered should contact their GP.”

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