MMR vaccination urged to protect against a rise in measles cases
As cases of measles increase across the UK, Hywel Dda University Health Board (UHB) is encouraging children, teenagers and adults who have not had two doses of the Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccine to arrange vaccination with their GP as soon as possible.
The MMR vaccine is safe and effective, and protects against measles, mumps and rubella (German measles). These diseases are highly infectious and can very easily spread between people who are not vaccinated.
The NHS offers the first MMR dose at 12 months old, and the second dose at 3 years and 4 months, ensuring children are fully protected before starting school. Children, teenagers and adults born after 1970 who have not been vaccinated, or who have had only one dose of MMR, are considered unprotected.
The number of people having the MMR vaccine has dropped since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The population of Hywel Dda has a lower average uptake of vaccination than other areas in Wales. Low rates of vaccination leave our communities at risk of measles outbreaks.
Measles can make children and adults very unwell, and some people who are infected will suffer life-changing complications. People in certain at-risk groups, including babies and young children, pregnant women, and people with weakened immunity, are at increased risk of complications from measles.
If you or your child are not vaccinated and you come into contact with someone with measles, you may be advised to stay home (quarantine) and away from work, school, and public places for 21 days to ensure you or your child do not pass measles to others if you become infected. Teachers, health and care workers, and other staff may also be asked to stay at home if they are unvaccinated and come into contact with someone with measles.
Dr Ardiana Gjini, Executive Director of Public Health at Hywel Dda UHB, said: “Measles is one of the most infectious diseases and nearly everyone who catches it will develop a high fever and a rash. One in every 15 people will get severe complications, including infection of the lungs (pneumonia) or brain (encephalitis).
“It has only been 10 years since a measles outbreak in Wales over 1,200 people infected, 88 needing hospital treatment and one person sadly died.
“The fall in the take up of the MMR vaccine in the recent years means we have many children and people in our communities vulnerable and unprotected against measles, which causes a serious illness for many people.
“The MMR vaccine is a safe and highly effective in protecting you against measles, mumps and rubella. With an increase in cases reported in the Midlands, I want to urge parents and carers to think of the safety of their children and ensure our communities here in West Wales are protected.”
The MMR vaccine is available through your GP, free on the NHS. Contact your GP to arrange vaccination, or if you are not sure if your child or you have had two doses of MMR.
You can also contact Hywel Dda UHB’s communication hub by calling 0300 303 8322 option 1 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can find out more about the MMR vaccine by visiting phw.nhs.wales/topics/immunisation-and-vaccines/vaccination-information1/mmr