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Home News centre National Press Releases 2009 Press Releases ›  Agency publishes annual measles figures for 2008

Agency publishes annual measles figures for 2008

6 February 2009

There were 1,348* confirmed cases of measles in England and Wales last year according to latest figures from the Health Protection Agency (January to December 2008).

This compares to 990 cases reported in 2007.


Confirmed measles cases
























Dr Mary Ramsay, an immunisation expert at the Health Protection Agency, said:

"The year on year increase of measles across England and Wales is very worrying. Last year saw the highest number of cases since the current method of monitoring the disease was introduced in 1995.

"What is so alarming is that the majority of these cases could have been prevented as most were in children who were not fully protected with MMR.

"There are still many children out there who were not vaccinated as toddlers over the past decade and remain unprotected. Unfortunately this means that measles, which is highly infectious, is spreading easily among these unvaccinated children.

"We are glad to see that public confidence in the MMR vaccine is now high with more than 8 out of 10 children receiving one dose of MMR by their second birthday. However, children who weren't vaccinated many years ago are still at real risk. Measles should not be taken lightly as you can never tell who will go on to develop the more serious complications of pneumonia and encephalitis.

"This is why it's incredibly important to remember that measles isn't a 'harmless' childhood disease and that it is never too late to get your child immunised with the MMR vaccine. It is the most effective way to protect children against measles, mumps and rubella."


Notes to Editors:

  1. Figures for confirmed measles up to end of December 2008 in England and Wales are as follows: 
    North West - 180
    North East - 15
    South East - 127
    South West - 38
    East of England - 84
    East Midlands - 45
    West Midlands - 109
    Yorkshire and Humberside - 47
    London - 662
    Wales - 39
    Unknown region - 2
  2. The latest uptake of MMR is for children aged two and five years of age in July - September 2008. Uptake of one dose for the UK by age 2 is 84.5%. The number of pre-school children in the UK receiving both doses of MMR by their fifth birthday is 77.9%.
  3. Measles cases in England and Wales by age breakdown are as follows:  
    - Under 1 - 112
    - 1 to 3 years, 6 months - 265
    - 3 years, 7 months to 11 years - 432
    - 12 - 18 years - 286 
    - 18 years and over - 252
    - Age unknown - 1
  4. On 7 August 2008, Sir Liam Donaldson, the Chief Medical Officer, established a MMR catch up programme providing Primary Care Trusts and GPs with extra funding to identify individuals not up to date with their MMR and offer catch-up immunisation to reduce the risk of a measles epidemic. More information about this programme is available at:
  5. For Health Protection Agency media enquiries please contact the Agency's Centre for Infections Press Office on:

David Daley  020 8327 6647
Kate Swan  020 8327 7097
Louise Brown  020 8327 7080
George Fletcher 020 8327 6690
Alexandra Baker  0208 327 7098

Last reviewed: 6 February 2009