Opinion: Falling MMR vaccination rate warning
- Credit: www.nelcsu.nhs.uk
There has been a lot of discussion in the media about the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine and measles cases rising across the UK.
I want to remind everyone that the responsibility rests with each of us to take action to protect ourselves, our families and our communities from this illness which can be very serious, causing long-term complications and even death.
In England, the number of five-year-olds immunised has fallen to 87.2 per cent - well below the 95pc needed to provide herd immunity - and as a result the UK has had its measles-free status rescinded by the World Health Organisation.
We are simply not vaccinating everyone, which is a serious problem.
It's important to remember that measles, mumps and rubella can all have serious complications. Measles is a very infectious, serious illness that can be fatal.
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Around one in five children with measles experiences complications such as ear infections, diarrhoea and vomiting, pneumonia, meningitis, and eye disorders, and one in 10 ends up in hospital. Additionally, if you get measles while pregnant and you're not immunised, this can lead to miscarriage and stillbirth.
Since vaccines were introduced in the UK, diseases such as measles have been reduced by up to 99.9pc. However, if people stop getting vaccinated, they can quickly spread again - which is what we are seeing across the country. It doesn't have to be this way though. While there is no treatment for measles it can be prevented with vaccination. Everyone can access the MMR vaccine for free on the NHS from their GP. All surgeries vaccinate children at the age of one year, then again at three years and four months.
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I can't stress how important this is and it doesn't just stop at children. If you know you didn't have the MMR vaccination as a child, please also go along to your GP surgery and get one. It's never too late to protect yourself and those around you.
There is more information and advice on the MMR vaccination on the NHS website at: nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinations/mmr-vaccine/