Essex County Council urges residents to check they have received MMR vaccination
Essex County Council is encouraging residents to check with their GP whether they have had two doses of the vaccine to protect themselves against this highly infectious disease.
Although only some areas of the country have been affected so far, most areas like Essex have enough older children at risk to sustain an outbreak.
There have been two confirmed cases of measles in Essex since the start of the year.
Dr Mike Gogarty, Essex County Council’s Director of Public Health, said: “The only way to prevent a measles outbreak in Essex is to make sure there is good uptake of the MMR vaccine across all ages.
“Parents should ensure their children are fully protected against measles, mumps and rubella with two doses of the MMR vaccine.
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“The current rise in measles cases can be attributed to the proportion of largely 10 to 16 year-olds who are unprotected because they missed out on vaccination in the late 1990s and early 2000s, when concern around a now-disproved link between autism and the MMR vaccine was widespread.
“It is never too late to get vaccinated against measles. I would encourage parents of unvaccinated children, as well as older teenagers and young adults who may have missed MMR vaccination to make an appointment with their GP to get vaccinated as soon as possible.
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“If you are unsure whether you or your child has had two doses of the vaccine, speak to your GP who will have a record.”
The World Health Organisation recommends that having more than 95% of children vaccinated will stop outbreaks occurring.
The latest data available shows vaccination coverage for MMR across Essex at age 2 is approximately 93% and at age 5 is approximately 89%.
Normally the first MMR vaccine is given when a child is 12 to 13 months old, and a booster dose is given before a child starts school, usually at 3 ½ years of age.
Experts believe the current rise in measles cases is largely due to the proportion of children now aged 10 to 16 years old who missed out on vaccination in the late 1990s and early 2000s, when concern around a now-disproved link between autism and the MMR vaccine was widespread.
Many of the cases which have occurred are in older children of these ages.
It is this age group which is believed to be most at risk and who should check their vaccinations are up to date.