New campaign to remind parents about the risk of measles

Published Tuesday 1 February 2022 at 14:49

A new health campaign is warning parents and guardians of the serious risk to children’s health from measles.

It is also a reminder to make sure their children are protected by taking up the two doses of MMR vaccine.

The MHS and the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) are calling on parents and guardians to ensure their children are up to date with the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine, and all other routine childhood immunisations, as the latest data shows MMR vaccination uptake has dropped to the lowest level in a decade. 

During the pandemic, the NHS has continued to provide routine childhood immunisations and they are crucial in protecting children against preventable diseases.

Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020, there has been a significant drop in the numbers people getting their children vaccinated against MMR and other childhood vaccines at the right time.

Coverage of the two doses of the MMR vaccine in five-year olds is currently 87% in the North West, which is below the 95% World Health Organisation’s target needed to achieve and sustain measles elimination.

Measles is highly contagious so even a small decline in MMR uptake can lead to a rise in cases.  As international travel starts again, it is more likely that measles will be brought in from countries that have higher levels of the disease and so it is important that we improve MMR vaccination rates to help prevent a rise in cases.

Measles can lead to complications such as ear infections, pneumonia, and inflammation of the brain which may require hospitalisation and on rare occasions can lead to long term disability or death. Since the introduction of the measles vaccine in 1968 it is estimated that 20 million measles cases and 4,500 deaths have been prevented in the UK.

Children are offered two doses of the MMR vaccine by their registered GP surgery, the first when they turn 1 and the second at around 3 years and 4 months.

The NHS has continued to prioritise routine vaccinations throughout the pandemic, however some parents who haven’t had their child vaccinated with the MMR vaccine said this was because they didn’t realise the NHS was still offering appointments, or they didn’t want to burden the NHS.

Professor Dominic Harrison, Blackburn with Darwen’s Director of Public Health and Wellbeing, said:

It is really important to have both doses of the MMR to give your child the best protection against not only Measles but also Mumps and Rubella, which can all be very serious illnesses and can lead to very serious complications.

If you think you have missed any vaccinations for your child or think you might not be up to date, it is not too late to catch up on them. Please contact your GP practice to make an appointment. This is the best way to give maximum protection to your child and protect others by helping to stop any spread in the community.”

Dr Caroline Rumble, Consultant in Health Protection at UKHSA North West said:

The MMR vaccine offers the best protection from measles, mumps and rubella which is why we’re calling on parents and carers to make sure their children are up to date with their two doses of vaccine.

Measles can have serious health consequences, and it is very concerning to see falling levels of uptake of the MMR vaccine. It is absolutely crucial we make sure our children are fully vaccinated against measles, mumps and rubella with both doses of the jab.

As measles is highly infectious, even a small decrease in vaccine coverage can potentially lead to outbreaks.

I would urge parents to check if their children are up to date with their MMR vaccines and if not to get them booked in as soon as they are able. It’s never too late to catch-up.”

Parents who are unsure if their child is up to date with all their routine vaccinations, should check their child’s Red Book (personal child health record) in the first instance.

If you are still not sure, or if you need to bring your child up to date with their vaccines, contact your GP practice to check and book an appointment. To find out more about the MMR vaccine, please visit for more information.

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