Warning to get children vaccinated against measles amid surge in UK cases
PUBLISHED: 09:32 23 July 2018 | UPDATED: 09:32 23 July 2018
Parents in Norfolk have been warned to keep their children's vaccinations up to date after outbreaks of measles in Europe.
Cases in the UK have also rocketed this year, as figures show hundreds of young children are still not protected against measles, mumps and rubella (MMR).
The most recent figures show that, in 2016/17, 91pc of children in Norfolk turning five had received the recommended two jabs - meaning roughly 940 five-year-olds had not been vaccinated.
In Suffolk, the figure was slightly lower at 90pc and in Cambridgeshire it sat at 85pc.
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) has warned that areas in which fewer than 95pc of the population are vaccinated are at a heightened risk of measles outbreak.
Only four countries in the EU hit the target, with the UK among those falling short. Across the east of England, just 90pc of children had received both MMR jabs by the age of five in the same year.
As the school summer holiday begins, Helen Donovan, from the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), said the threat posed by measles should not be underestimated.
She said: “Measles is extremely infectious, especially where large crowds of people gather, such as at festivals or in towns.
“Thanks to vaccination it has become increasingly rare in the UK, but recent increases in infection rates show we can’t be complacent.
“The MMR vaccine is free. Getting immunised is quick and simple – an appointment with your practice nurse will only take a few minutes.”
It comes amid a surge in the number of reported measles cases - in the UK this year, 757 reports have been made, nearly triple the 274 in the whole of 2017.
The RCN has advised teenagers who missed their jabs in the late 1990s to ensure they are up to date before travelling.
In the UK, babies are usually given the first MMR jab within a month of their first birthday, as part of their routine vaccination schedule. The second is usually given after they turn three.
Children up to the age of 18 who missed their jabs are still eligible to receive them free on the NHS, as are certain vulnerable adults, including pregnant women.
Cases of measles have been reported in countries including Romania, France, Italy and Greece so far this year.