13th June 2011
With the summer holidays approaching, NHS Sheffield is advising parents to make sure their children and young adults are protected with two does of the MMR vaccine before making plans for social gatherings and holidays abroad.
The Health Protection Agency is currently reporting a rise in Measles cases in England, most probably related to recent travel to mainland Europe. Parents are being urged to act now in a bid to help prevent further people becoming ill.
Ben Anderson, from NHS Sheffield’s Public Health team, said:
“Measles is a highly infectious disease which can lead to serious illness.
“Immunisation with the MMR vaccine gives children effective protection from Measles and so I would urge all parents, and especially those with plans to travel to Europe or further abroad this summer, to ensure that their children are up to date with their vaccinations.
“Measles spreads very easily through direct contact with an infected person or through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Being vaccinated is very important, not just to protect individuals traveling abroad, but also to stop the virus from spreading in local Sheffield communities and potentially seriously affecting others.”
Internationally, there are ongoing Measles outbreaks in France, neighbouring parts of Europe and other non European countries. From January to April 2011, 275* laboratory confirmed cases of measles have been reported to the HPA in England, compared to 33 cases for the same period the previous year. 44 of these confirmed cases have been in Yorkshire and Humber, with some occurring in Leeds and Sheffield. Nationally, cases are associated with either recent travel abroad or small clusters in mainly unvaccinated children and young adults between the ages of 10-24.
Dr Rosy McNaught, South Yorkshire Health Protection Unit, said:
“All parents should ensure that they take up both MMR vaccinations for their child when offered by their GP. The first vaccination is usually offered at the age of around 12 months, with a booster given at age 3 years.
“If your child is between 6 and 12 months of age and you’re planning a trip abroad, speak to your GP, as they may arrange for vaccination to be given slightly earlier than scheduled if necessary.”
Dr McNaught added: “For older children, it’s never too late to get immunised with the vaccine. If you’re unsure whether children and young adults in your family are up-to-date with MMR vaccination, check with your GP. We must not forget that the vaccine also protects against mumps and rubella, which also have the potential to be very serious illnesses.”
If you are unsure whether or not your child is fully protected, speak to your GP. For further information on the MMR vaccination and measles, go to www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk or call NHS Direct on 0845 46 47.