Liberal Democrat Sutton Council is urging residents to ensure that they or their children have been vaccinated against measles.
London has seen more than 60 cases of measles in the past two months - six times the normal level. With 48 of these cases in people aged 15 or over, Public Health England and Sutton Council are calling on parents and young adults to consider the MMR vaccine.
Sutton Council has written to parents and carers in the borough to ask them to ensure their children are up to date with their immunisations including the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) immunisation.
Many young children, teenagers and young adults in Sutton are not fully immunised and are at risk of catching diseases such as measles, which can spread quickly.
Measles is a highly infectious viral illness that can be very unpleasant and sometimes lead to serious complications. Although usually a mild illness in children, it can be more severe in adults, but is now less common in the UK because of the effective MMR vaccination programme.
While vaccine uptake rates in England are currently among the highest in Europe, an increase is still needed to reach the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) 95 per cent target for MMR vaccination in two-year-old children. The current rate in London is just over 87 per cent.
Dr Nicola Lang, Sutton Council’s Director of Public Health, said: “London is experiencing a serious measles outbreak. This is a highly infectious viral illness that can be very unpleasant and sometimes lead to serious complications.
“Many children, young people and young adults in Sutton are not fully immunised and are at risk of catching measles, which can spread quickly. Please ensure your child is up to date with all recommended immunisations by checking their Personal Child Health Record (“the Red Book”).
"Giving children, young people and young adults two doses of MMR will protect them from measles. If you are unsure how many MMR jabs your child has had, please contact your GP surgery. If you have a child or teenager who has not had two doses of MMR please contact your GP to make an appointment.
“If your child is not registered with a GP, please register as soon as possible and ensure your child is given all necessary immunisation to protect them against childhood diseases. All routine childhood immunisations are free on the NHS.
“If you are concerned or if your child has other medical needs, you can discuss your child’s individual circumstances with your own GP and/or a paediatrician. We would also strongly encourage young adults who have not received the MMR vaccine yet to do so as soon as possible.”
- Coverage of the first dose of MMR vaccine in the UK is high among infants, with more than 90 per cent of children receiving one dose of the vaccine by the age of two since 2011. The latest figures for the October-December 2015 quarter show MMR coverage of one dose at two years is 92.0 per cent and at five years remains close to the World Health Organisation (WHO) target of 94.9 per cent. Coverage of the second dose at age five is 88.3 per cent.
- Vaccines for mumps and rubella became available in 1967 and 1969, respectively. The three vaccines (for mumps, measles, and rubella) were combined in 1971 to become the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine.
- People who have been in close contact with someone who has measles should see their GP if they have not been fully vaccinated (had two doses of the MMR vaccine) or have not had the infection before – particularly those who are immunosuppressed, pregnant or infants.
- Women of childbearing age, particularly those thinking of starting a family, should be immune to rubella as this infection can have serious complications in pregnancy. Any women unsure of their MMR immunisation status should seek advice from their GP but wait one month after the last dose of MMR before becoming pregnant. As the vaccine cannot be given in pregnancy, postnatal women should check their MMR immunisation status with their GP at their six-week maternal check.