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Saturday, June 22, 2024

Measles outbreak warning: Parents advised to take action

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) is warning of further outbreaks of measles following the recent spate in the West Midlands.

Most of the cases have been in children under the age of 10 years with many outbreaks linked to nurseries and schools.

While there are currently no reported cases in Lancashire, urgent action is needed to increase measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccination uptake in areas at greatest risk.

Measles has practically been eradicated from Lancashire for several years but the director of public health, Dr Sakthi Karunanithi (pictured) is concerned it may return to the region.

He said: “Across England, uptake of the routine childhood vaccinations, including the MMR vaccine, is the lowest it has been in a decade and is well below the levels needed to protect the population and prevent outbreaks.

“This is giving this serious disease a chance to get a foothold in our communities.

“We want to make sure that parents have all the information they need about measles and MMR vaccination so they feel equipped with the knowledge of how to protect themselves and their loved ones from this disease.”

What is measles?

Measles is a highly infectious viral illness that spreads very easily among those who are unvaccinated, especially in nurseries and schools.

It can be a very unpleasant illness and usually starts off with a high temperature and a cold with red eyes, followed by a rash that spreads from your face to the rest of your body. The rash may be harder to spot on black or brown skin.

In some children measles can be very serious, leading to hospitalisation and in rare cases can cause death.

People in certain at-risk groups including babies and young children, pregnant women, and people with weakened immunity, are at increased risk of complications from measles.

How to protect your loved ones from measles

Vaccines are our best line of defence against diseases like measles and help stop outbreaks occurring in the community.

Achieving high vaccination coverage across the population is important as it also indirectly helps protect very young infants and other vulnerable groups.

You can get the MMR vaccine on the NHS for free from your GP practice. Children are offered the first dose when aged one year and the second dose aged three years, four months.

We are calling on all parents and guardians to make sure their children are up to date with their two MMR doses.

It’s never too late to catch up, and you can get the MMR vaccine for free on the NHS whatever your age.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms include a high fever, sore red watery eyes and a blotchy red-brown rash.

There is information on measles on the NHS website.

This includes advice to parents and carers to check if their child has measles, including photos of the measles rash.

Measles is a highly infectious viral illness, so anyone with symptoms is advised to stay at home and phone their GP or NHS 111 for advice, rather than visiting the surgery or A&E, to prevent the illness spreading further.

Book a vaccine now

If your child’s vaccines are not up to date, book at the GP practice. Check your child’s Red Book if you are not sure or call the GP practice.

If you are not registered for a GP practice: find your nearest practice and get registered by checking: nhs.uk/nhs-services/gps/how-to-register-with-a-gp-surgery

For more information, visit: lancashireandsouthcumbria.icb.nhs.uk/measles

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