Public Health Wales: Back to school MMR urged after new cases in measles outbreaks
Posted on Friday 11th August 2017
Parents are urged to ensure their children have received two doses of the MMR vaccine after three new cases of measles have been reported in the outbreak affecting Newport and Torfaen.
The additional cases bring the total number in the ongoing outbreak to 16.
The outbreak has direct links to a large outbreak in Europe that has infected 14,000 people and caused 35 deaths since the beginning of the year.
With the new school term now only a few weeks away, Public Health Wales is urging parents across Wales to ensure their children are up to date with two doses of the MMR vaccine before returning to classes.
Dr Rhianwen Stiff, Consultant in Communicable Disease Control for Public Health Wales, said: “In our current outbreak, we have seen measles pass between pupils at the same school. With children returning from holidays in Europe, and with our ongoing outbreak in Newport and Torfaen, we are concerned that the start of the new term could lead to further cases of measles in Wales.
“Measles is highly contagious and passes very easily between people who are unvaccinated.
“The message is simple – MMR offers the best and only protection against measles. If you, or your child, are not up to date with two doses of the MMR vaccine, speak to your GP surgery immediately.”
Children with measles symptoms - which include a high temperature, cough, runny nose, red eyes (conjunctivitis), and a distinctive red rash - should be kept home from school, nurseries and social events such as holiday clubs and birthday parties.
Public Health Wales is also urging parents not to take children who appear to have symptoms of measles to the GP surgery, A&E department or hospital, where they could put other people at risk, without calling ahead first.
Among the new cases in the outbreak are people who have attended healthcare settings while unwell with measles, leading to other patients who they may have come into contact with receiving letters warning of the risk of measles.
Parents who suspect their child has measles should contact their GP or NHS Direct Wales on 0845 46 47 for an assessment.
A rolling programme of vaccination sessions has already been completed in schools across Newport in response to the outbreak, with 1,089 children receiving immunisation.
Measles is highly infectious and the only way to prevent large outbreaks is through vaccination. Parents whose children are not up to date with two doses of MMR should ensure that they contact their GP practice to arrange this quick, safe and effective vaccine.
Adults born since 1970, who have never had measles or the MMR vaccine, are also urged to ensure they contact their surgery about vaccination, especially if they work with children.
The first dose of MMR is usually given to babies at between 12 and 13 months of age, and the second at three years and four months of age, but it is never too late to catch up on missed doses.
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.
Further information on measles, including a link to a video testimony from a mother whose three year old unvaccinated daughter contracted measles, is available at http://www.publichealthwales.org/measles