A letter to all parents from Professor Duggal of the Health Protection Agency West Midlands North:
I am writing to inform you that we are observing an increase in the number of cases of measles in England. Cases appear to be occurring mainly in older children and young adults who have not been fully immunised with the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine. A significant number of these cases have recently travelled to Europe. Many countries in Europe have observed an outbreak in measles in population groups who have not been fully immunised to protect them from measles.
Measles is a highly infectious illness and can have severe complications. Individuals with measles are usually quite ill and in some circumstances, complications such as pneumonia and encephalitis can develop.
MMR immunisation is the safest way to protect against measles. Two doses of MMR are required to ensure adeqaute protection.
School children, young people and adults who have not been fully immunised can be protected be receiving MMR vaccine at any age.
The MMR vaccine is usually given at 13 months as part of the routine childhood vaccination programme. A second dose is given between 3 years 4 months and 5 years. For individuals over the age of 5 years, two doses of the MMR vaccine can be given one month apart to prevent infection.
If your child has not had MMR vaccine at all, please arrange this through your GP immediately. The second dose should be given a month after the first one. If your child has had one dose of MMR vaccine, please arrange a second dose as soon as possible.
Professor Harsh Duggal MBBS LMSSA FFPHM
Director of Health Protection
Health Protection Agency West Midlands North