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Young travellers in summer holiday MMR plea

Public health experts say Europe is experiencing large outbreaks of measles

Mark Gould

Thursday, 21 June 2018

Public Health England (PHE) is encouraging young adults to make sure they have had both doses of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine before going on holiday to Europe which is currently experiencing widespread outbreaks of measles. Cases of measles also continue to rise across England in unvaccinated people of this age.

PHE says that between 1 January 2018 and 18 June 2018 there have been 643 laboratory confirmed measles cases in England. Cases were reported in most areas with London (225), the South-East (137), West Midlands (82), South-West (79), and Yorkshire and Humberside (74) reporting the most cases.

While vaccine uptake levels in the UK in young children are currently very high, PHE says coverage levels dipped to a low of 80% in 2003. This means that there are significant numbers of unprotected teenagers and young adults who could catch measles both in England, particularly in environments of close mixing such as summer festivals and when they travel abroad for the summer holidays. The World Health Organization recommends that to prevent outbreaks of disease, 95% of people need to have received the MMR vaccine.

PHE's head of immunisation Dr Mary Ramsay, said: "In the early 2000s there was a fall in MMR vaccination coverage in children and as a consequence, we are now seeing measles cases in young adults. Measles can be more serious in adults with a higher likelihood of hospitalisation and complications arising.

"Measles is circulating in England and the rest of Europe. We often think about what travel-related vaccines we might need before going on holiday, but it’s also important to check that we are up to date with routine vaccinations like MMR."

She says anyone who is unsure if they have had two doses of MMR should call their GP practice to check and catch up if needed. She also urged parents to take up the offer of MMR vaccination for their children at one year old and as a pre-school booster at three years and four months old.

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