St Albans parents warned over measles outbreak

Ensure your child is vaccinated against measles

Ensure your child is vaccinated against measles - Credit: Archant

PARENTS in the St Albans district have been urged to ensure their children are fully vaccinated against measles – which in rare cases can be fatal.

Dr Raymond Jankowski, deputy director of public health for Hertfordshire, said that while the number of children vaccinated against the disease is higher than the national average, those who have not yet received two doses should be vaccinated as soon as possible.

All youngsters should have received two doses of the Measles Mumps Rubella (MMR) vaccine by the age of five.

In Herts nearly 95 per cent of two year old children have had their first dose of the MMR vaccine and 92 per cent of five year old children have received the recommended two doses.

However, this leaves a small percentage of children unprotected.

There were 12 confirmed cases of measles in Herts in the 12 months to the end of March 2013, all in children under the age of 15.

Dr Jankowski said he understood that many people were concerned about giving their children MMR vaccinations.

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He added: “However, research which showed a link between MMR and autism has now been completely discredited and I would urge everyone to ensure that they and their children are vaccinated.

“Measles is a very infectious disease and can lead to pneumonia and encephalitis. In extremely rare cases it can even be fatal.”

Dr Jankowski went on: “At present, your risk of exposure to the disease is quite low unless you are travelling to areas where there is an outbreak but vaccination is important to reduce your future vulnerability.”

He recommended those not vaccinated - including parents – should see their GP.

There were 2,016 confirmed cases of measles in England and Wales reported to the Health Protection Agency in 2012, which is the highest annual total since 1994.

Around 10 per cent of cases of measles require hospital admission, and there is a fatality rate of one in 5,000 in the United Kingdom.

The UK along with France, Italy, Spain and Romania accounted for 87 per cent of the total 7,392 measles cases reported throughout the European Union countries up to the end of November 2012.

• The first symptoms of measles are cold-like symptoms, red eyes which are sensitive to light, a high temperature and greyish-white spots in the mouth and throat.

• These are followed a few days later by a red-brown spotty rash on the head and neck. If you or your child develop these symptoms it is important that you contact your doctor immediately.