Measles

The UK Health Security Agency has declared a national incident in response to recent outbreaks of measles (February 2024).

Measles is a viral infection that affects the respiratory system, spreads very easily and usually starts with cold-like symptoms followed by a rash. It can cause serious health complications like pneumonia and meningitis and can also lead to long-term health problems, such as persistent bronchitis, hearing/sight loss and seizures. Anyone at any age can be infected by the measles virus if they haven’t been vaccinated or had measles before. Those most at risk are the very young and people with weakened immune systems.

The key to preventing measles is to have the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine. Childhood MMR vaccination rates have declined slightly in recent years, but there are also adults who may have missed out on one or both doses of the MMR vaccination. The MMR vaccine is safe, effective and can give lifelong protection. A porcine-free version of the vaccine is also available. It is best to have the vaccination as a child, but it can be given at any age.

Parents/carers are encouraged to check the MMR status of their child. This can be done by checking their red book or contacting their GP surgery, where one or both MMR doses can be given if not fully vaccinated.  If you work with families, you are urged to promote this message over the coming weeks.

It is also important for some adults to check their MMR status, namely those working with the very young or working with people with weakened immune systems; those about to start college or university; those who are going to travel abroad; and those who are planning a pregnancy. If you are in one of these groups and are unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated, please contact your GP surgery.

Share this page?