PEOPLE in Leicester are being urged to ensure that they and their children are fully vaccinated against measles, following the confirmation of two cases in the city.
Leicester’s Director of Public Health, Rob Howard, is calling on anyone who hasn’t had both measles vaccinations as a child, or has children who aren’t fully vaccinated, to contact their GP practice and ensure they are protected.
Rob Howard said: “We have recently had two confirmed cases of measles in the city; one case is a university student, and the other is a school student. Neither have had the Measles, Mumps and Rubella vaccine known as MMR.
“Measles is a very infectious virus and spreads very easily. People who catch measles usually recover completely within a couple of weeks, however it can be a very serious illness that can lead to permanent disability, and occasionally can cause death.
The best way to protect yourself and your family is to have the MMR vaccination. Anyone who hasn’t already had two doses should contact their GP surgery for an appointment to get vaccinated” he added.
“Two doses are needed for full protection against measles, preferably by the age of 5 years, but you can have the vaccination at any age and measles immunity usually lasts a lifetime so you will only need one course of vaccinations. The MMR vaccine is free of charge and is a highly effective and safe vaccine. You can also request a porcine free vaccine.”
The city council has been working with the local NHS and the UK Health and Security Agency since the cases were identified. To help reduce the risk of further cases, the UKHSA has written to the university and to parents of children at schools to remind them of the symptoms of measles and the importance of the MMR vaccination.
The local NHS is working with GP practices to increase opportunities to get vaccinated in the coming weeks.
Dr Virginia Ashman, a local GP and a clinical lead for the Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland vaccination programme said: “If you have had measles or you were born before 1970 it is highly likely that you have a good level of immunity from measles already.
“We particularly want to encourage vaccination in young children and any women of child-bearing age. The MMR vaccination is not given in pregnancy and so the best way to protect young babies from measles is for them to receive antibodies from their mother, until they are old enough to be vaccinated themselves. If you are unsure whether you or your family have been vaccinated, please check your online GP record or your child’s red book in the first instance, otherwise contact your GP practice.”
Susanne Howes, Consultant in Health Protection at UKHSA East Midlands, said: “It’s important that people are alert to the symptoms of measles, which usually starts with cold-like symptoms accompanied by fever, a red-brown blotchy rash, and sore red eyes.
“Initial symptoms of measles develop around 10 days after a person is infected, but can take between 7 to 21 days. If you experience these symptoms seek medical attention but be sure to phone ahead before you visit your GP surgery or other healthcare setting, so arrangements can be made to prevent others from being infected.”
More information about measles is available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/measles/
Information about the MMR vaccine can be found at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinations/mmr-vaccine/