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Check your MMR status, public health doctors say

Some 20 cases of measles have been confirmed across England since February

Mark Gould

Monday, 14 March 2016

Public Health England (PHE) is asking people to check that they have received two doses of Measles Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccine and to be aware of the signs and symptoms of measles following a rise in the number of confirmed cases over the past few weeks.

PHE says that, since the beginning of February, 20 cases of measles have been confirmed across London (12 cases) and the East of England (Cambridge – 3 cases; Essex – 2 cases; Hertfordshire – 3 cases), predominantly in unimmunised adolescents and young adults (aged 14 to 40 years). Many of these cases have been admitted to hospital.

Dr Kevin Brown, PHE's Deputy Director of the Virus Reference Department, said that while measles is now relatively uncommon in England thanks to the MMR vaccine, those who are unvaccinated, or not fully vaccinated, remain susceptible to the disease.

"The cases we have seen recently have been confirmed mainly in adolescents and young adults. It’s important to be aware that it’s never too late to have the vaccine, so if you’ve not received two doses of the vaccine in the past – or you’re unsure – speak to your GP. There’s no harm in receiving an additional dose where there is any uncertainty.

"Also remain alert to measles, which can include cold-like symptoms, sore red eyes, a high temperature or a red-brown blotchy rash. If you experience these symptoms seek medical attention, but be sure to phone ahead before you visit your GP surgery so arrangements can be made to prevent others from being infected."

Dr Brown said that people should also see their GP if they have been in close contact with someone who has measles and they have not been fully vaccinated (had two doses of the MMR vaccine) or haven’t had the infection before – particularly those who are immunosuppressed, pregnant or infants.

Measles activity in England has been at historically low levels since the successful MMR catch-up immunisation campaign in 2013, which targeted unimmunised and partially immunised adolescents aged 10 to 16 years. There were 103 and 91 cases of measles confirmed in England during 2014 and 2015 respectively.

The MMR vaccination is routinely provided as part of the NHS Childhood Immunisation Programme in England. Uptake is high with more than 90% of children receiving 1 dose of the vaccine by 2 years of age since 2011 and 2012.

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