RCPCH statement on the MMR vaccine

Professor Helen Bedford stresses the importance of the Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccine in response to news that measles rates in Europe have hit a record high in this decade.

Commenting on reports that more than 41,000 people in Europe have been infected with measles in the first six months of 2018, with 807 cases so far in England this year, Professor Helen Bedford, RCPCH member and specialist in immunisation at University College London (UCL), said: 

The UK has a successful childhood vaccination programme with high uptake. We know that the vast majority of parents choose to vaccinate their children, and figures show that the proportion of children receiving the Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccine by age five has increased year on year over the last decade.

However, news that cases of measles in Europe have hit a record high in this decade, and that there have been over 800 cases in England this year, are concerning. Measles is a highly infectious disease with potentially serious complications, but it is completely preventable. At the RCPCH, we wish to reassure parents that the MMR vaccine is safe, and very effective. Two doses are needed for best protection.

Children can catch up on vaccines they may have missed out on when younger, so we encourage parents to contact their GP to arrange any vaccine their child has missed or to check if they are not sure. In particular, anyone planning to travel to mainland Europe should ensure their vaccines are up-to-date before leaving the UK. At this time of year, it is especially important to ensure that children and young people are fully immunised before going back to school or starting university or college.