Drive to get young people protected against measles in Hampshire
Thursday, 25 April 2013
A targeted campaign to ensure that young people across Hampshire are protected against measles outbreaks is launched today (Thursday 25 April) in the wake of rising levels of confirmed cases of the preventable disease nationally.
Dr Ruth Milton, Hampshire's Director of Public Health said: "Our team is working with colleagues in health and care services to raise awareness of this important health hazard and the real benefit of protecting our young people by taking up the MMR vaccine. Current levels of vaccination in our five year olds is 91%, but this is still is short of the 95% coverage needed to protect the entire community by preventing the spread of the infection."
"The proportion of 10 to 16 year olds in Hampshire who are immune is far lower. This means that about 1 in 5 teenagers in Hampshire is at risk of this avoidable and serious infection. We know from recent outbreaks that this age group is most at risk and that complications are common with measles infection."
"A vaccination for a preventable disease can protect you at any time and the MMR is given as two doses. I would strongly urge parents to check with their GP to ensure that their children are fully protected against measles and if not, to book an appointment to get their MMR vaccine as soon as possible."
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, many 10 to 16-year-olds missed out on a vaccination due to publicity surrounding a discredited link between autism and the vaccine.
As well as the current serious outbreak in Swansea, there have also been smaller measles outbreaks across many parts of England including Teeside, Greater Manchester, Preston, Gloucestershire and Herefordshire. While there has been only one case of measles in the last quarter in Wessex (made up of the NHS in Dorset, Hampshire, and Isle of Wight), which was in Hampshire, the natural history of measles infection is such that an increase is expected in the coming months.
Measles is an unpleasant illness that starts with a few days of cold-like symptoms and is then followed by a rash accompanied by high fever, red eyes and a cough. It can be particularly severe in babies under the age of one year, teenagers and older people, especially those who have a weakened immune system. In these groups, measles can cause complications including pneumonia, ear infections, diarrhoea and encephalitis (swelling of the brain).
Around one in every 10 children who get measles is admitted to hospital. In rare cases, people can die from measles. Measles in pregnant women can also be very serious and threaten the pregnancy.