Jon Cruddas is calling on anyone who isn’t vaccinated to urgently come forward to get their measles (MMR) vaccine amid rising cases in the West Midlands and concerns of a rapid outbreak in London in coming weeks if action is not taken.
London is also at risk of measles outbreaks due to having the lowest vaccination uptake of any region, with only 87% of 5-year-olds having had their first dose of the MMR vaccine, compared to 93% for England. A risk assessment by the UKHSA estimated that a measles outbreak of between 40,000 and 160,000 cases could occur in the capital.
Latest published data for London shows that from 1 January to 30 November 2023, there were 209 laboratory confirmed measles cases in England with 104 cases in London (50%). The majority of London’s measles cases have been in children aged under 10 years.
Measles is very infectious (even more so than COVID-19), and spreads easily among those who are unvaccinated, especially in nurseries and schools. It is a nasty illness, and in some children can be very serious and lead to hospitalisation – and in rare cases tragically can cause death.
Dr Yvonne Young, London regional deputy director for UKHSA, said:
“The free MMR vaccine is a safe and effective way of protecting against measles, as well as mumps and rubella. MMR is part of the NHS Routine Childhood Immunisation Programme and the first dose is usually given soon after a child’s first birthday. Parents whose babies missed out, or anyone of any age who is unvaccinated, are urged to come forward.”
“Parents should check their children are fully vaccinated with 2 MMR doses, which gives 99% life-long protection, by checking their red book or with their GP practice. Younger and older adults can also do this. Anyone not up-to-date with their vaccines should make an appointment as soon as possible.
"We need to try and ensure as many people as possible are fully vaccinated against measles as it helps protect very young babies (under one) and other vulnerable people.”