One in ten 5 year olds are not up to date with their measles, mumps and rubella vaccinations across the South West

Parents in the South West are being urged to book their children in for their missed measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine as part of a major NHS drive to protect our children and communities from becoming seriously unwell, as measles cases continue to rise in parts of England.

Dr Emma Kain, Consultant in Public Health Medicine and Screening and Immunisations Lead, NHS England South West advises, “Vaccination is the best way to protect you, your family and the wider community against measles. The MMR vaccine is safe and effective, and just two doses will give you and your family lifelong protection.

“Measles, mumps and rubella are highly infectious illnesses that can easily spread between unvaccinated individuals, and with measles cases potentially requiring a 21-day isolation period, people’s lives can be seriously impacted.

“If caught during pregnancy, measles can be very serious, causing stillbirth, miscarriage and low birth weight. Young adults are therefore urged to catch up on any missed doses before thinking about starting a family.

“Please don’t put this off, check now that you and your children are fully up to date with both MMR jabs and all childhood routine vaccines, and take up the offer as soon as possible if you are contacted by your GP practice or the NHS for your child to arrange catch up doses.”

Professor Dominic Mellon, Deputy Director for Health Protection at UKHSA South West, adds: “Measles is not ‘just a harmless childhood illness’. It spreads very easily and can lead to complications that require a stay in hospital and on rare occasions can cause lifelong disability or death, so it is very concerning to see cases increasing.

“MMR vaccine uptake in the South West is generally high, with 9 out of 10 children protected, but with vaccine uptake in some of our communities being lower than this, particularly in our cities and urban areas, there is now a very real risk of seeing the virus spread in these areas.

“Vaccines are our best line of defence against diseases like measles, mumps and rubella and to help stop outbreaks occurring in the community.

“The vaccines are free on the NHS whatever your age. If anyone has missed one or both doses of the MMR vaccine, contact your GP practice to book an appointment. It is never too late to catch up.”

The first MMR vaccine is given at age one year and the second at age 3 years and 4 months old. If you or your child have missed any doses, it’s not too late to catch up.

However, if you are unsure if you or child are up to date, check your child’s red book or GP records and make an appointment to catch up any missed doses. Anyone can catch up at any age on any missed doses.

Health and care workers should also check if they have had both doses of their MMR vaccine and book an appointment as soon as possible with their GP practice to get vaccinated if they have missed a dose.

Data shows the MMR vaccine is safe and very effective. After 2 doses:

  • around 99% of people will be protected against measles and rubella
  • around 88% of people will be protected against mumps