MMR jab advice following Merseyside measles outbreak

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HEALTH experts across Lancashire are urging parents of children and young people under 16 years of age: “don’t hesitate: vaccinate” in a bid to avoid a measles outbreak in the county.

There is currently a large outbreak of measles in the Merseyside region with 260 confirmed cases. Health experts in Lancashire are concerned for the safety and long term health of children who have not been protected if they have not received the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccination. Experts say it’s not too late to get protected.

Dr Ken Lamden, on behalf of the Lancashire Measles Outbreak Prevention Group, said: “Measles is highly infectious so we must all do everything possible to prevent the spread of it, particularly with an outbreak on our doorstep. The risk of an increase in cases in Lancashire is high, and the MMR vaccination is the only way to prevent measles. If parents haven’t arranged for their children to be vaccinated - it’s not too late to have the jab.

“Parents don’t realise that measles is not just a case of a few spots – it can be a very serious illness. Symptoms include fever, cough, soreness of the eyes and a rash which spreads rapidly over the body. Serious complications affect one in 15 children. These include chest infections, fits, encephalitis (swelling of the brain), and brain damage. In very serious cases, measles can kill.

“The best protection against measles is the MMR vaccination. With the help of Lancashire County Council, we have written to schools in the county, as well as to every GP to ask them to help us encourage parents with children under 16 years of age to check if they have had the MMR injection or not, and if in any doubt at all to contact their GP practice to arrange an appointment to have the jab.

“There is a high risk of a measles outbreak on our doorstep because of the outbreak in Merseyside. It is very important that parents in Lancashire don’t hesitate – and take steps to make sure their children are vaccinated with the MMR vaccine. When children have received the MMR vaccine, it not only protects them from measles, mumps and rubella, but because they are vaccinated, it protects others too. The more children who have the MMR vaccine - the better for everyone.”

The first dose of MMR vaccination is usually given at the age of 12 months and the second dose given before school entry around 3 years 4 months of age (sometimes known as the pre-school booster).

For children and young people who have not had the recommended doses, parents should contact their GP practice to arrange an appointment for their child to receive any outstanding doses of MMR vaccine as quickly as possible.