Home Children and Young People NHS Cheshire and Merseyside invites thousands of school children to be vaccinated against measles.
2 doses of the MMR vaccine can stop your child becoming seriously unwell with measles. Make sure your child is up to date with their vaccinations. NHS

NHS Cheshire and Merseyside invites thousands of school children to be vaccinated against measles.

by Guy Murphy

With measles cases on the rise, thousands of school children aged 6 -11 years are being invited to attend appointments to be vaccinated against Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR).

Last week, saw the launch of a major drive to invite those not fully vaccinated to come forward and catch up on missed doses – with reminders being sent to families throughout February and March.

Measles is one of the world’s most infectious diseases, with one infected person passing it to approximately fifteen unvaccinated people. It is more than just a rash and poses a serious risk to those who are unvaccinated.

One in five children with the illness will require a hospital visit and the infection can lead to serious complications such as meningitis and sepsis. There is no specific treatment for measles, so parents are being reminded that vaccination gives the best protection from serious illness.

Uptake of the vaccine, which is usually given to children aged one – followed by a second vaccine at around three years and four months – has fallen below the World Health Organisation target of 95% coverage with two doses of MMR vaccine by the aged of five.

Now, NHS leaders across Cheshire and Merseyside are urging parents and guardians of children aged 6 -11 years in the region, to book any missed MMR vaccinations at their GP practice – to ensure full protection against the disease.

Professor Ian Ashworth, Director of Population Health at NHS Cheshire and Merseyside, said: “Uptake of 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.   The rise in measles cases seen in the West Midlands is a concern.  There is a real risk that this outbreak could spread to other towns and cities including in Cheshire and Merseyside.

“Measles is highly contagious and spreads very easily among those who are unvaccinated.  In some children it can be very serious and lead to hospitalisation.  The MMR vaccine is the best way we can protect children and prevent measles from spreading, which is why we’re urging parents and carers to bring their children forward for any missed MMR vaccines.”

Dr Sinead Clarke, local GP and Associate Medical Director for System Quality and Improvement at NHS Cheshire and Merseyside, said: “Measles is preventable. Two dose of the MMR vaccine is enough to give lifelong protection from measles, mumps and rubella. Parents can check their children’s red book to see if they are up to date or contact their GP surgery if they’re unsure.

Since the measles vaccine was introduced in the 1960s it is estimated to have saved more than 4,500 lives, by avoiding more than 20 million cases.

The MMR vaccine is safe and has been successfully used since the 1980s. The evidence is clear – there are no link between the MMR and autism.

Thousands of parents and carers in Cheshire and Merseyside will receive invitations by text message, email and letters this week.

Measles can start out with a runny nose and a cough, and so can be easy to miss until a rash forms.

Measles symptoms include:

  • high fever
  • sore, red, watery eyes
  • coughing
  • aching and feeling generally unwell
  • a blotchy red brown rash, which usually appears after the initial symptoms.

To book an MMR vaccine contact your GP practice.

The Living Well Bus, a service delivered by Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, is offering all routine vaccinations, including MMR, to eligible individuals, alongside health checks and wider wellbeing guidance. The bus operates a walk-in service and will be at select locations across Cheshire and Merseyside. Visit the www.cwp.nhs.uk/livingwellservice for upcoming clinics near you.