MMR jab plea to parents in Lancaster and Morecambe as measles cases continue to rise

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Parents in Lancaster and Morecambe are being urged to make sure their children are fully vaccinated against measles.

The NHS drive comes as measles cases continue to rise, with thousands of North West school children starting to receive invitations to book an appointment if they have not received one or both of the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccines.

Uptake of the jab, which is usually given to children aged one and then a second vaccine at around three years and four months, has fallen below the World Health Organisation target of 95% coverage with two doses of MMR vaccine by five years.

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In the North West, 85.2% of children have had both doses of the vaccine by age five, but the figure is lower than 80% in some areas. Last September, more than 12,000 children started school unprotected.

As measles cases continue to rise, NHS North West is inviting thousands of school children to catch up with their MMR vaccine.As measles cases continue to rise, NHS North West is inviting thousands of school children to catch up with their MMR vaccine.
As measles cases continue to rise, NHS North West is inviting thousands of school children to catch up with their MMR vaccine.

Now NHS leaders across the North West are urging parents and guardians of children aged six to 11 to urgently book any missed MMR vaccinations at their GP practice, to ensure full protection against the disease.

Measles is one of the world's most infectious diseases, with one infected person giving it to approximately 15 other unvaccinated people. It is more than just a rash and is a serious risk to those who are unvaccinated.

One in five children with the illness will require a hospital visit and the infection can lead to complication in one in 15, such as meningitis and sepsis.

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Dr Linda Charles-Ozuzu, Regional Director of Commissioning at NHS England North West, said: “The MMR vaccine is the best way we can protect children from measles which is highly contagious and can be very dangerous in some cases.

“The recent rise in cases is worrying but measles is a preventable disease which is why we’re urging parents and carers to bring their children forward for any missed MMR vaccines. We’d also like to encourage parents of younger children to make sure their children have both doses of MMR as soon as they are invited.

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“Two doses of the vaccine is enough to give lifelong protection from measles, mumps and rubella so please contact your GP practice if your child has yet to have one, or both, of the vaccines.”

Since the measles vaccine was introduced in the 1960s it is estimated to have saved more than 4,500 lives, by avoiding more than 20 million cases.

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Experts insist the vaccine is safe, and say evidence proves there is no link between the MMR and autism.

Dr Merav Kliner, Regional Deputy Director for UK Health Security Agency North West, said: “The ongoing measles outbreak in the West Midlands remains a concern. MMR vaccine coverage has been falling for the last decade with one out of 10 children starting school in England not protected, and so there is a real risk that this outbreak could spread to other towns and cities including in the North West.

Thousands of parents and carers in the North West will begin to receive invitations by text message, email and letters this week.

Measles can start out with a runny nose and a cough, and so can be easy to miss until a rash forms.

Measles symptoms

  • High fever
  • Sore, red, watery eyes
  • Coughing
  • Aching and feeling generally unwell
  • A blotchy red brown rash which usually appears after the initial symptoms.