Measles outbreaks spread to more areas of England

‘Worryingly low’ vaccine uptake is driving new clusters of measles accross England

Rebecca Thomas
Health Correspondent
Thursday 15 February 2024 17:42 GMT
Measles resurgence: UK authorities urge parents to vaccinate children amid rise in cases

Measles cases are spreading to more areas of England prompting further warnings from health officials.

Following an outbreak of the virus in the West Midlands further cases have been identified.

A total of 166 new cases have been found by UK Health Security Agency in four weeks to 15 January. The majority of those are within the West Midlands, 91 out of 166, and particularly in Birmingham.

However, 20 new cases were reported in London, 17 in the North West, 16 in Yorkshire and the Humber and 15 in the East Midlands.

Since October there have been 521 cases of the Measles with 69 per cent coming from The West Midlands.

The majority of cases, 343, are cases of children under the age of 10 and 25 per cent in young people and adults over 15.

In January UKHSA was prompted to make a “national call to action” following the surge in the spread of measles in London and the West Midlands.

Professor Dame Jenny Harries, chief executive of the health board, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme at the time that people have “forgotten what measles is like”, and that children can be unwell for a week or two with symptoms including a nasty rash, high fever and ear infections.

According to Dame Harries 20 per cent of children were entering school unvaccinated.

Dr Vanessa Saliba, UKHSA consultant Epidemiologist, said: “As expected, due to worryingly low MMR vaccine uptake in some areas across the country, we are now starting to see clusters of cases in other regions.

“While parents are coming forward to take up the offer of the MMR vaccine for their children, there are still hundreds of thousands of children who remain unprotected and therefore remain at risk of serious complications or life-long disability.

“But measles is completely preventable with vaccination. I strongly urge parents to take up the offer of the MMR vaccine now to make sure their child is protected.”

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