Rise in measles cases highlights importance of MMR jab

measles rash on child's torsoRESIDENTS across East Sussex are being urged to check they are up to date with their MMR vaccinations following a national rise in measles cases.

Local public health officials are encouraging people to protect their communities by making sure they, and their children, have received the MMR jab which protects against measles, mumps and rubella.

This is particularly important before people travel this summer and before attending summer festivals where measles can spread more easily.

Between 1 January and 20 April this year, there have been 49 cases of measles nationwide compared to 54 cases in the whole of 2022.

Last year, between July and September, over 260 children in East Sussex missed one or both of their MMR vaccinations meaning they are not protected against the illness.

In recent years the number of children vaccinated against measles in the UK has fallen. COVID-19 has also had a significant impact on vaccination rates and some children may not have received the MMR vaccine due to the pandemic.

Darrell Gale, Director of Public Health for East Sussex, said: “Measles is currently circulating in the South East and although fortunately we haven’t seen any recent cases in East Sussex, the increase in cases across the country is concerning.

“Measles is a serious illness that can easily be prevented through immunisation. While the MMR vaccine is normally provided to young children, it can be given to all ages so you are never too old to be vaccinated.

“I urge the parents of young children, as well as teenagers and adults who may not have received the vaccine, to contact their GP as soon as possible to book an appointment.”

Large outbreaks of the illness have been reported in Europe and officials are also advising people to check their MMR vaccines before travelling abroad to ensure they are protected and to avoid bringing the illness back to East Sussex.

Measles is a highly infectious disease that can lead to serious complications and on rare occasions long-term disability or death. Symptoms include a high fever, sore red watery eyes and a blotchy red-brown rash.

Mr Gale added: “The MMR vaccine is a safe and extremely effective way to prevent measles, mumps and rubella.

“Two vaccines are needed to be fully protected. While ideally children should receive the MMR vaccine at 13 months and again at three years and four months, it is never too late to catch up.”

More information on the MMR vaccine can be found at www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinations/mmr-vaccine/