Young adults are being urged to check they’ve had the MMR vaccination before they go travelling around Europe this summer due to large measles outbreaks on the continent.
Across England, the number of measles cases are continuing to rise in young people who have not had the MMR vaccination, which is free to those who have not had both doses during childhood.
The MMR vaccination protects against measles, mumps and rubella, all of which can be very serious and are highly infectious.
How many young children have had the MMR vaccine?
Vaccine uptake levels in the UK in young children are currently at a high level; however, coverage levels dipped to a low of 80% in 2003.
These statistics mean that there are a significant number of unprotected teenagers and young adults who could catch measles both in England, particularly in environments with close contact with others such as summer festivals, and while travelling abroad for the summer holidays.
How many measles cases have there been in 2018?
So far this year, between 1 January and 18 June 2018, there have been 643 confirmed measles cases in England. Areas with the most reported cases were:
- London (225);
- The South-east (137);
- West Midlands (82);
- The South-west (79);
- Yorkshire (74); and
- Humberside (74).
In order to prevent outbreaks of the disease, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that 95% of people need to have received the MMR vaccine.
“Measles can be more serious in adults”
Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunisation at Public Health England (PHE), said: “In the early 2000s there was a fall in MMR vaccination coverage in children and, as a consequence, we are now seeing measles cases in young adults. Measles can be more serious in adults with a higher likelihood of hospitalisation and complications arising.
“Measles is circulating in England and the rest of Europe. We often think about what travel-related vaccines we might need before going on holiday, but it’s also important to check that we are up to date with routine vaccinations like MMR.
“If you are unsure if you have had two doses of MMR call your GP practice to check and catch up if needed.”