UK PM orders urgent action to boost measles vaccine uptake

Henrietta Brewer
August 20, 2019

Speaking in Truro, Mr Johnson said: "I think there's complacency on the part of parents about the need to get that second vaccine but also, I'm afraid, people have been listening to that superstitious mumbo jumbo on the internet, all that anti-vax stuff and thinking that the MMR vaccine is a bad idea".

After a period of progress where we were once able to declare Britain measles free, we've now seen hundreds of cases of measles in the United Kingdom this year.

Caroline Hatton, service delivery group manager, (children, young people and families) with Shropshire Community Health NHS Trust, said: "As a parent, you have the power to protect your children against serious or potentially fatal diseases like measles, cancers caused by HPV, and whooping cough".

Dr Vanessa MacGregor, Consultant in Communicable Disease Control at PHE East Midlands, said: "It's a real concern that so many young children in our region could be starting school without the full protection that the NHS childhood immunisation programme offers for free".

Social media companies have struggled to combat fake news of all sorts, from political propaganda to bogus warnings about vaccines such as MMR for measles, mumps, and rubella. He has previously said campaigners against jabs for diseases such as measles have "blood on their hands".

A recent survey conducted by Unicef found that between 2010 and 2017, over half a million (527,000) children were not vaccinated in the United Kingdom with the first dose of the measles vaccine.

The WHO said in the first six months of 2019 reported measles cases globally were nearly three times as many as the same time previous year.

Two doses of the vaccine leaves 99% of people protected - the majority of new measles cases have been in people who are not vaccinated.

The RCGP also "welcome that the Government is addressing the falling take-up of childhood vaccinations seriously", but reminded that it is not just the responsibility of the Global Positioning System to combat anti-vaccination propaganda, but that "everyone has a part to play: health, public health and education bodies; but we also need technology companies to take responsibility and tackle negativity and confusion around vaccination information". However, as the rise of measles continues to circulate across countries, more needs to be done.

The 4-in-1 pre-school booster is also usually offered at three years and four months of age and protects against diphtheria, whooping cough, tetanus and polio.

In 2018, there was a marked increase in reported measles cases, with 991 confirmed cases in England and Wales, compared with 284 cases in 2017.

Johnson added that some parents were also complacent about making sure their children receive their second doses of the MMR vaccine.

Anyone who has not received two doses of MMR vaccine is always at risk.

To check that your child has received all their vaccines on schedule, visit the NHS website and refer to your child's Red Book.

If in any doubt, they can contact their GP practice.

While confidence in the UK's world-leading vaccination programme remains high - with uptake exceeding 90% for most childhood immunisations - there has been a small but steady decline in coverage in recent years.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: "It's easy to forget how devastating measles can be, precisely because vaccines are so effective at preventing it in the first place".

Health officials warned that unvaccinated children in Britain are at high risk of measles, especially when they return to school.

Measles is a highly contagious and risky infection.

People 12 months old or older, with no evidence of immunity or no written documentation of any doses: 2 doses of MMR vaccine before travel.

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