Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
Evening Standard
Evening Standard
Daniel Keane

Vaccine plea as measles cases rise significantly in London

London has overtaken the West Midlands as the region with the highest number of measles cases, new figures show, raising fears of a fresh outbreak in the capital.

Data published by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) shows that a total of 76 infections were reported in the capital in the month up to March 18, making up 39.8 per cent of all cases nationally.

It comes months after public health leaders raised the alarm over a sharp increase in cases in Birmingham, though infections have stabilised in the region in the past fortnight.

Measles is an infection that spreads very easily and can cause serious health problems, including meningitis and pneumonia. It usually starts with cold-like symptoms, followed by a rash a few days later.

The last major measles outbreak in the UK was just over 10 years ago and saw 1,920 confirmed cases in England in 2012 with a further 1,414 in 2013.

Since October 1 last year, a total of 1,109 confirmed cases have been reported across England.

Two-thirds (63.7 per cent) of these cases were in children aged 10 years and under, and a quarter (28.8 per cent) were in young people and adults aged 15 years and over.

The number of cases is likely to be higher as many suspected infections are currently undergoing confirmatory testing and data cleansing.

The MMR vaccine is given to children to protect against measles, mumps and rubella as part of the NHS routine vaccination schedule. Children receive their first dose aged one, and their second dose aged three years and four months.

But the latest figures show that the ten areas with the lowest vaccination rate against measles in England are all in London.

Analysis by the Standard found that children living in Hackney (60 per cent), Kensington and Chelsea (60.7 per cent) and Westminster (61 per cent) had the lowest rate of MMR vaccination of any local authority. More than a third of children were unprotected against measles in the three boroughs as of September last year.

The World Health Organisation says that at least 95 per cent of the population should be vaccinated against measles to prevent it from spreading as it is so highly transmissible.

Dr Vanessa Saliba, Consultant Epidemiologist at the UKHSA, said: “Numbers of measles cases are rising across the country, with a particular increase seen in London in recent weeks.

“We know some communities in London have very low MMR vaccination rates. Measles is extremely infectious and it only takes one case to get into these communities for this disease to spread rapidly, especially in schools and nurseries.

“The MMR jab offers the best protection against measles. Measles is preventable but many thousands of children around the country are still not fully vaccinated and may be at risk of serious illness or life-long complications. No parent wants this for their child."

She added: "Parents should check their child’s Red Book now to ensure that children are up to date with the MMR and other routine vaccines. If you’re unsure, contact your GP practice to check. Your GP can offer the vaccinations your child needs to bring them up to date. If the NHS contacts you about catching up on missed vaccines, please respond as soon as possible."

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Already a member? Sign in here
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.