As recent figures from Public Health Wales asserts show that 1-in-7 four year olds are not fully protected against measles before starting school, we discuss why immunising your children is so important.
Across the world, measles is the leading cause of vaccine-preventable death. Measles is also one of the most infectious viruses we have circulating in our communities. Measles is spread through the air via coughing and sneezing, and if an unvaccinated or non-immune person is exposed, they have a 90% chance of becoming ill.
About 1 in 5 children with measles can experience serious complications such as ear infections, pneumonia or meningitis. One in 10 children with measles ends up in hospital and in rare cases it can be fatal.
So far in 2018, there have been over 150 cases of measles in Wales, many more than there were in the previous year.
For this reason, Cardiff and Vale UHB Local Public Health Team is urging parents to ensure their children and young people in their care are fully protected against measles with two doses of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine.
The MMR vaccine is recommended by the World Health Organization, UK Department of Health and Public Health Wales as the most effective and safe way to protect children against measles.
The first dose of MMR is usually given to infants at 12 months of age and the second at three years and four months of age. For the best protection, children should receive both doses.
It is never too late to catch up on missed doses and we are encouraging children and young people of all ages to check with their parents or GP as to whether they’re fully protected before heading back to school, college, or university.
Lorna Bennett, Consultant in Public Health and lead for immunisations in Cardiff and Vale UHB, said, “Immunisation is one of the most successful medical interventions to prevent disease. In the last 100 years, we have effectively eradicated several serious diseases in the UK through successful immunisation programmes.
“However, vaccination only works on a large scale when as many people as possible are vaccinated. To prevent measles spreading, over 95% of the population need to have received two doses of a measles-containing vaccine such as the MMR to provide protection within the community. Parents should ensure their children are protected by being up-to-date with their vaccinations or risk them contracting diseases like measles at school. I would urge parents to check that their children have had two doses of MMR and, if not, to contact your GP surgery to make an appointment for vaccination.”