BLOG: “We want to make sure that parents have important information about measles a MMR vaccinations”

Liverpool’s Director of Public Health, Professor Matt Ashton, on why you should protect your loved ones against measles, which is one of the most infectious diseases in the world.

There is a large outbreak in Birmingham and Coventry mainly affecting children under 10 years old. Many children have now been admitted to hospital.

Liverpool has been free from measles for several years, and as Director of Public Health, I am concerned it could easily move around the country and end up in Liverpool. We want to make sure that parents have important information about measles and MMR vaccinations so that they feel confident to protect their child. 

Did you know that Liverpool had a very large outbreak of measles in 2012? The outbreak spread across Merseyside and 2,458 children and young people became ill. The NHS and Public Health teams worked together with parents, communities, schools and nurseries to bring the outbreak under control. The estimated cost of the outbreak was a staggering £4.4 million, such as in days lost to sickness, and the costs of NHS treatment and public health actions.

The outbreak spread in 2012 despite our MMR vaccination rates at the time being higher than the national average. What I’m worried about is that the number of vaccinated people in Liverpool is lower than when we had the outbreak of measles in 2012. Here’s the current picture…

  • The national average for families getting the first dose of the MMR vaccine for their child before two years old is 89 per cent; in Liverpool this is 80 per cent
  • The national average for families getting the second dose needed to fully protect their child before the age of five is 85 per cent; in Liverpool this is 74 per cent, which is far too low.
  • To prevent the spread of measles, we need to protect children across all neighbourhoods, and we need very high uptake of the vaccine – 95 per cent uptake is needed. In 2012 and still today, children living in wealthier parts of Liverpool are more likely to be protected against measles and other infectious diseases than children living in disadvantaged neighbourhoods.  

We need to ensure that families and communities across Liverpool understand the risks of measles and learn more about the vaccines that can protect them and their children.  I have two kids, 12, and 10 years old, and they have both been fully vaccinated so they are protected against measles.

It is never too late to get vaccinated against measles.

How to protect yourself and your children from measles

There is a simple, easy, safe and very effective way of protecting yourself from measles – the MMR vaccine. You can get it on the NHS for free from your GP practice.

Book a vaccine now

If your child’s vaccines are not up to date, book at the GP practice. Check your child’s Red Book if you are not sure, or call the GP practice.

If you are not registered for a GP practice find your nearest practice and get registered by visiting the NHS website.

For more information visit the NHS website.

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