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Home News centre National Press Releases 2012 Press Releases ›  HPA urges back to school vaccination as measles cases continue to increase

HPA urges back to school vaccination as measles cases continue to increase

24 August 2012

Almost twice as many confirmed cases of measles in England and Wales have been reported to the Health Protection Agency (HPA) in the first six months of 2012 (964) compared to the same period in 2011 (497), according to latest figures published today (Friday). Overall 1,086 cases were reported in 2011, up from 380 in 2010.


Rubella has also shown an increase with 57 cases reported between January and June this year - exceeding the annual totals for each of the previous nine years. These cases have mainly been associated with travel to other European countries.

The measles cases identified so far this year have been associated with the ongoing Merseyside and Sussex outbreaks, as well as several smaller outbreaks in travelling communities across England in recent months.

The latest published data on the uptake of both doses of the MMR vaccination in England is 93 per cent for the first dose and 87 per cent for the second dose. In Wales, the uptake of the MMR vaccine is 95 per cent for the first dose and 88 per cent for the second dose. Coverage has increased dramatically since 2002 (when coverage for the first dose was below 80 per cent) and therefore some older children may not have been protected and may now be contributing to the increasing numbers of cases reported.

Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunisation at the HPA, said: “It’s extremely concerning that measles cases are continuing to rise. Measles can be very serious and parents should understand the risks associated with the infection, which in severe cases can result in death.

“Although uptake of the MMR has improved in recent years some children do not get vaccinated on time and some older children, who missed out when uptake was lower, have not had a chance to catch-up. Therefore, there are still enough people who are not protected to allow some large outbreaks to occur among unvaccinated individuals.

“It’s vital that children receive both doses of the MMR vaccination and ahead of returning to school after the holidays, we are urging parents to ensure their children have received the two doses, which will provide the best protection against the risks associated with measles, mumps and rubella.

“If you are unsure if your child has had two doses of the vaccination, speak to your GP who will have a record of which vaccinations your child has received.”

ENDS

Notes for editors:

1. Confirmed cases of measles, mumps and rubella reported to the health protection Agency 1996 - 2012.

Confirmed cases of measles mumps and rubella 1996-2012

 

Measles

Mumps

Rubella

1996

112

94

3922

1997

177

182

117

1998

56

121

119

1999

92

373

162

2000

100

730

62

2001

70

784

45

2002

319

500

64

2003

437

1541

16

2004

188

8129

14

2005

78

43378

29

2006

740

4420

34

2007

990

1476

35

2008

1370

2405

27

2009

1144

7662

9

2010

 380

3965

12

2011

1086

2465

6

2012*

964

1621

57

*These data are provisional from 1 January 2012 to 30 June 2012

2. In response to the increase in the number of measles cases reported among members of the Gypsy and Traveller communities in recent months, the HPA has prepared a leaflet specifically for travelling communities about measles and MMR vaccination. This is designed to help NHS staff and others who work with travellers explain the risks of measles, the signs and symptoms to look out for and the importance of MMR vaccination http://www.hpa.org.uk/Topics/InfectiousDiseases/InfectionsAZ/Measles/  

3. For a copy of the HPA’s weekly Health Protection Report please visit http://www.hpa.org.uk/hpr/  

4. For further general information on measles, mumps and rubella and the MMR vaccination please visit http://www.hpa.org.uk/Topics/InfectiousDiseases/InfectionsAZ/MMR/  

5. The Health Protection Agency is an independent UK organisation that was set up by the government in 2003 to protect the public from threats to their health from infectious diseases and environmental hazards. In April 2013, subject to the usual approvals procedures for establishing new bodies, the Health Protection Agency will become part of a new organisation called Public Health England, an executive agency of the Department of Health. To find out more, visit our website: http://www.hpa.org.uk  or follow us on Twitter @HPAuk or ‘Like’ us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/HealthProtectionAgency [external link]

5. For more information please contact the national HPA press office at Colindale on 0208 327 7901 or email colindale-pressoffice@hpa.org.uk. Out of hours the duty press officer can be contacted on 0208 200 4400.
 

Last reviewed: 24 August 2012