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expert reaction to phe mmr vaccination call following high numbers of measles cases

Reactions to a call from PHE (Public Health England) for anyone who is eligible to get vaccinated in response to outbreaks of measles.


Dr Doug Brown, Chief Executive, British Society for Immunology, said:

“Measles is a highly infectious disease that can lead to extremely serious complications for some of those affected.  We have been lucky enough to have a safe and effective vaccine to protect against measles since 1968, which has revolutionised the health of our children and saved many lives.  The number of cases in the UK dropped from almost half a million per year before the vaccine was introduced to the hundreds each year now.  Most of the benefits have been via the triple measles–mumps–rubella (MMR) vaccine that is proven to be safe and effective in many studies.

“Today’s call from Public Health England to encourage anyone who hasn’t received two doses of the MMR vaccine to be immunised is timely.  We know that measles cases, both in the UK and on the continent, have been rising steadily over the past 18 months.  Because measles spreads so easily between individuals, it’s incredibly important that we stop this transmission in its tracks by having a high percentage of the population vaccinated – the World Health Organization recommends 95%.  England’s coverage currently stands at 92% of children receiving the first MMR vaccine by their second birthday, with 87% receiving the second vaccine by their fifth birthday.

“As a world leader in vaccine research and provision, the UK needs to ensure that we make it as easy as possible for parents to get their children vaccinated – through providing easy-to-access services, evidence-based information on vaccines and training to healthcare staff to allow them to engage effectively with under-vaccinated communities.

“If you are concerned that either you or your child did not receive the MMR vaccine at the designated timepoint, contact your GP and make that appointment to get immunised.  It’s never too late.  Increasing the percentage of the population who have received the MMR vaccine will make a huge difference in stopping people getting sick from measles.  Get vaccinated.  Don’t regret it by waiting to catch one of these diseases.”


Prof Helen Bedford, Professor of Child Public Health, Institute of Child Health, UCL, said:

“Measles is a highly infectious, potentially serious disease and England has not escaped the recent increase in cases we have seen globally.  Luckily we have ready access to a free, highly effective and safe means of stopping ongoing outbreaks in their tracks: MMR vaccine.  Most toddlers have had their MMR vaccine but many people particularly teenagers and young adults, in whom the disease is often more serious, have been left unimmunised.  If you are unvaccinated or in doubt about whether you are protected, contact your GP practice.  Vaccination only takes a few minutes but will protect you from a nasty disease which could result in life changing complications or even death.  One dose of vaccine is good but two are better for best protection.”


Declared interests

Dr Doug Brown: “No interests to declare.”

Prof Helen Bedford: “I have no conflicts of interest.”

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