RCPCH responds to data published by the UKHSA on measles 

Data published on 4 May 2023 by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) shows there has been a rise in measles cases.
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They have stated specifically that between 1 January and 20 April 2023, there have been 49 cases of measles compared to 54 cases in the whole of 2022. Most of the cases have been in London, although there have been cases picked up across the country and some are linked to travel abroad.

They added that in recent years, the number of children vaccinated against measles has fallen. Uptake for the first dose of the MMR vaccine – which protects against measles, mumps and rubella – in children aged 2 years in England is 89% and uptake of 2 MMR doses in children aged 5 years is 85%. This is well below the 95% target set by the World Health Organization (WHO), which is necessary to achieve and maintain elimination.

In response, Helen Stewart, RCPCH Officer for Health Improvement said:  

Measles is a highly infectious disease with potentially serious complications, especially for the very young. The falling number of first and second doses is extremely concerning and unless we increase uptake of the vaccine to WHO targets, measles won’t go away. 

The good news for parents and carers is that the MMR vaccine is highly effective with a very good safety record. Two doses are needed for best protection. It is never too late for your child to get these critical vaccinations, and your health practitioner would be happy to discuss through any questions or concerns you might have. We know that vaccination levels dropped during the pandemic, so if your child hasn’t had a first or second dose, or you are just not sure what they have and haven’t had, we wholly encourage you to contact your GP surgery to ask and arrange, and you can also check your child’s personal child health record – known as the red book. 

Health professionals should take the opportunity to talk to families about immunisations and respond to any questions they may have. It is important that we work together to make sure children are as safe as they can be from these potentially serious illnesses. 

The RCPCH has been reiterating the importance of children receiving all of the immunisations they are eligible for. We must tackle this issue. It is absolutely critical that government now publishes the long overdue vaccination strategy alongside a new, cross-departmental child health strategy backed up by funding.