Protect against rising measles cases with the MMR Vaccination
Measles cases are on the rise in England and across Europe. Make sure you and your family are protected against becoming seriously unwell with measles by checking you are up to date with the MMR vaccine.
Across England, on average, one in ten children are not up to date with their MMR vaccinations, with some areas of the country as low as two in five. Thousands of children are at risk of catching measles and the disease spreading in unvaccinated communities.
If you are unsure if you or your child are up to date, check your child’s red book or GP records and make an appointment to catch up on missed doses.
Continue reading below to learn more about measles, its symptoms, possible complications and the best protection against it – the MMR vaccine.
Measles: Symptoms and Complications
Measles can easily pass between people through coughs or sneezes, with symptoms commonly appearing 10-14 days after being exposed to the virus.
Typical symptoms of measles include a high temperature, cough, runny nose, sore throat, spots or rash and conjunctivitis (red, watery eyes).
There is no cure for measles, so the best way to deal with it is to manage the symptoms with rest, staying hydrated and over-the-counter medicine for temperatures and coughs.
It’s vital to isolate children with measles, as the infection can easily pass to others.
Some people, especially those with weakened immune systems, can become seriously ill from measles. Complications include pneumonia, dehydration, encephalitis, or meningitis.
One in 5 people who get measles need to go to hospital, and it can be life-threatening.
The best protection is vaccination.
The MMR Vaccine
The MMR vaccine is a combination vaccine that protects against measles, mumps, and rubella (German measles).
Two doses give lifelong protection against these three highly contagious viral infections.
The first vaccine is given at age 1, and the second at three years and four months.
The first MMR vaccine was introduced in the UK in 1988. It is highly effective, providing about 88% protection after the first dose increasing to 99% after the second.
It has prevented around 20 million measles cases and saved over 4,500 lives.
Common side effects of the MMR vaccine are usually mild and temporary.
They may include:
- Soreness or swelling where the needle goes in
- Mild fever
- Rash or temporary joint pain
For more information on common and rare side effects or allergic reasons to the MMR vaccine, go to the NHS website.
Because the vaccine is given to young children, it is normal that they may feel upset or cry when given the vaccine. Being calmed and consoled with a cuddle usually helps.
There is no link between the MMR vaccine and autism. A study in 1998 claimed there was a link but was retracted after being widely discredited. Many large-scale studies have confirmed there is no connection.
Checking your child’s vaccination record
It is vital that children have had both doses of the MMR vaccine.
Your child’s red book will have this information, but if you are not sure or don’t have the book, you can contact your GP to check.
It is never too late to get both MMR doses, even if your child is older.
Don’t hesitate to contact your GP to arrange a first or second dose as soon as possible.