Measles outbreak in France - Parents advised to protect their children with the MMR immunisation

THERE is currently a large measles outbreak in France, with more than 3,700 cases reported in January and February 2011. The UK has a similar-sized population to France and there have been 193 confirmed cases between January and March this year.

Headteachers of local schools have been alerted to the outbreak.

Deputy director of public health with NHS West Essex, Dr Pam Hall, said: “Parents of children who may be travelling to mainland Europe for school trips or holidays are advised that there may be an increased risk of acquiring measles.

“They should ensure that their children have been fully vaccinated, and seek MMR immunisation from their GP if required. Two doses of MMR vaccine at least one month apart are required to provide protection.”

In the UK following 10 years of low uptake of MMR vaccine, there are school pupils who remain unvaccinated or are incompletely vaccinated and are therefore vulnerable.

In west Essex, about 91.5 per cent of two-year-olds and 85 per cent of five-year-olds are up to date with their MMR immunisations.