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Public Health England is warning anyone who has not been vaccinated with a dose of the MMR vaccine should see their GP.
Following widespread measles outbreaks in Europe, PHE is particularly concerned about families and students who are likely to travel to Europe as the summer approaches, which is when cases of measles rose in the UK last year. The warning is also targeted to anyone who has a child who missed a dose of the MMR vaccine.
In the first quarter of 2019, there were 231 confirmed cases of measles. As measles is highly infectious, anyone who has not received two doses of MMR vaccine is at risk, particularly unvaccinated people travelling to countries where there are currently large outbreaks of measles.
Mary Ramsay, head of Immunisation at Public Health England, said: “Measles can kill and it is incredibly easy to catch, especially if you are not vaccinated. Even one child missing their vaccine is one too many – if you are in any doubt about your child’s vaccination status, ask your GP as it’s never too late to get protected.
“There are measles outbreaks happening across Europe so if you are planning to travel, make sure you check with your GP and catch-up if needed. We continue to work with NHS England on how we can make it as easy as possible for parents to access vaccines so that they can offer their children the best possible start in life.”
Seema Kennedy, Public Health Minister, said: “Over 30 years ago we introduced the MMR vaccine, and since then our world-leading vaccination programme is estimated to have prevented 1.8 million painful and potentially fatal cases of measles. The vaccine was an enormous catapult for improving the health of children and young people and still is.
“No child or young person should have to suffer from mumps, measles or rubella, and we must curb this recent increase in cases so we don’t see a return of horrible diseases of the past. By taking up the MMR vaccine parents and young people can prevent more cases and I would urge everybody to do so.”
The MMR vaccine is given on the NHS as a single injection to babies, as part of their routine vaccination schedule, usually within a month of their first birthday. A second injection of the vaccine is given just before starting school, usually at three years and four months.