Here’s some shocking news. Fifteen secondary school pupils were recently diagnosed with measles, according to Public Health England.
This comes after figures released in May revealed that between January 1 and May 9, 440 cases of measles were confirmed in England with London being the worst hit.
PHE claims that travel to European countries that have been hit by measles epidemics is behind England’s outbreak, as well as people failing to take up the recommended measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccines.
Prior to the outbreak at Chichester High School in West Sussex last month, Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunisation at PHE, said: “The majority of cases we are seeing are in teenagers and young adults who missed out on their MMR vaccine when they were children.”
To prevent a measles outbreak, 95% of the population needs to be immunised against the infection. Only 91.9% of children were vaccinated against measles between 2015 and 2016 compared to 94.2% in 2014-2015 and 94.3% in 2013-2014.
For those who missed out, Dr Sarah Lock, consultant in health protection with PHE South East, said: “It is important to be aware that it is never too late to have the vaccine.
“While the cases in Chichester are among children, it is important to remember that measles is not just a childhood illness, as proven by the number of recent cases among adults in other parts of Sussex and Surrey.
“We’d also encourage people to ensure they are up to date with their MMR vaccine before travelling to countries with measles outbreaks.”
London has had the most measles cases this year at 164. The South East has had 86, the West Midlands 78, the South West 42 and 37 have been recorded in West Yorkshire.
The World Health Organisation claims people’s fear of vaccines, along with complacency, means many, particularly young children, are unprotected. Earlier this year, the WHO warned measles was spreading across Europe in regions where vaccination rates are low, such as Poland, Switzerland and Ukraine.
From January 2016 to November 2017, 19,000 cases were reported in the EU, including 46 deaths.
Dr Ramsay said: “Due to ongoing measles outbreaks within Europe,
we will continue to see imported measles cases in the UK in unimmunised individuals.
“This serves as an important reminder for parents to take up the offer of MMR vaccination for their children at one year of age and as a pre-school booster at three years, four months of age.”