UK no longer ‘measles free’

The disease has made a return to our shores, prompting the World Health Organization to strip the UK of it’s ‘measles-free’ status

Two doses of vaccine essential

The World Health Organization has announced that the UK has lost its ‘measles-free’ status, after 231 confirmed cases of the infection in the first three months of 2019.

Three years ago, the disease had all but disappeared from the UK, but has now returned.

This year has seen a drop in uptake of the second dose of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine, which is essential for protecting against the infection.

Data cited by New Scientist shows that currently 87.2% of children receive the second dose of the vaccine, down from 88.6% from 2014-2015. It is really important that parents make sure their children receive both doses.

The first dose of the MMR vaccine is usually given when your baby is between 12-13 months. A second is needed before your child starts school, usually at around three years and four months.

Highly infectious

The government aims to ensure 95% of the population take up both does of the vaccine. This is the figure that the World Health Organization says is needed to achieve ‘herd immunity,’ which stops the spread of infection throughout the population.

Mary Ramsay of Public Health England says: ‘Measles is one of the most infectious diseases known to man – only one person travelling back to an area with lower vaccination rates can lead to an outbreak. Anyone who has not received two doses of MMR vaccine is always at risk.’