Knowsley Council is urging parents to check the vaccination status of their children due to growing number of measles cases.
Across England there has been a recent increase in measles cases, with a total of 127 cases confirmed in January. The majority of these have been in children under the age of 10 years with many outbreaks linked to nurseries and schools.
To help reduce the risk of further measles cases the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) is advising everyone to be alert to signs and symptoms and urging people to check their families are fully vaccinated against measles.
Measles is highly contagious amongst those who are unvaccinated and it is particularly easy to catch in environments when in close contact with others, such as schools and nurseries.
Parents can check their child’s red book to see if they are up-to-date with their vaccination or contact their GP if they are unsure.
Symptoms of measles include a high fever, sore, red watery eyes and a blotchy red-brown rash.
Cllr Christine Bannon, Knowsley Council Cabinet Member for Health, said: “The rising number of measles cases in England is worrying as it can be very serious illness for some of our most vulnerable.
“Unfortunately, due to falling vaccination uptake, there is no insufficient protection across our communities to prevent outbreaks. It is therefore really important residents look out for the signs of measles and get protected as soon as possible.”
What is measles?
Measles can be a very unpleasant illness. In some children it can be very serious and lead to hospitalisation – and in rare cases tragically can cause death. People in certain risk groups including babies and young children, pregnant women, and people with weakened immunity, are at increased risk of complications from measles.
Measles spreads very easily among those who are unvaccinated.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms include a high fever, sore, red watery eyes and a blotchy red-brown rash, and it is particularly easy to catch in environments when in close contact with others.
What should I do if I think I, or my child, has measles?
If you think your or your child have measles, call your GP surgery or NHS 111 first. They will advise on next steps. Avoid turning up at a healthcare setting without letting them know that you have a suspected measles case to help stop the virus spreading.
How is it spread?
Measles is spread through coughing and sneezing, close personal contact, or direct contact. It is one of the most highly infectious diseases.
Why are cases on the rise?
Uptake of the routine childhood vaccinations, including the MMR vaccine is the lowest it has been in a decade and is well below the 95% uptake needed to protect the population and prevent outbreaks. This is giving this serious disease a chance to get a foothold in our communities.
Achieving high vaccination coverage across the population is important as it also indirectly helps protect very young infants (under one) and other vulnerable groups.
How can I get protected?
The MMR vaccine offers the best possible protection from measles. Two doses of the MMR vaccine give you excellent lifelong protection.
It is important that anyone who hasn’t already had two doses of the MMR vaccine contacts their GP surgery for an appointment to get vaccinated.
The first MMR vaccine is given by your GP practice when your child is aged one year and the second dose at aged 3 years and 4 months, but if your child misses either of these doses there are plenty of opportunities to catch up.
Please check your child’s red book to see if they are up-to-date with their vaccination or contact your GP if you are unsure.
If your child has missed their MMR vaccine you can contact your GP or call Mersey care NHS Foundation Trust on 0151 351 8805 who can arrange a convenient appointment and answer any questions you may have.