West Midlands has 75% of England’s measles cases

Posted: 31st January 2024

Three quarters of measles cases reported in England since October have been in the West Midlands, new data shows.

Figures released by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) reveal the region had 260 out of 347 cases across the country, between 1 October and 23 January.

Meanwhile, 13% of cases have been in London and 7% in Yorkshire and the Humber.

A consultant epidemiologist at the UKHSA said the outbreak in the region “remains a concern”.

Bar chart showing the number of measles cases per region
Image caption,

75% of England’s measles cases between 1 October and 23 January were in the West Midlands

Of the 347 cases in England, 127 of these were confirmed in January.

The majority of these cases (67%) were in children under the age of 10 (67%).

‘Vaccination best protection’

Dr Vanessa Saliba, UKHSA consultant epidemiologist, said: “MMR vaccine coverage has been falling for the last decade with one out of 10 children starting school in England not protected and so there is a real risk that this outbreak could spread to other towns and cities.

“Measles is a nasty illness for most children and for some can be serious, but it is completely preventable.”

“Vaccination is the best way to protect yourself and your children.”

Symptoms of measles, external include a high fever, a blotchy red or brown rash, coughing, and sneezing.

It can also leave eyes sore, red, and watery.

The illness normally clears up within seven to 10 days. However, complications can include pneumonia, meningitis, blindness and seizures.

Babies and young children, pregnant women, and those with a weakened immune system are at increased risk, the UKHSA says.

Dr Saliba asked anyone who is not up to date with their two doses of MMR vaccine to contact their GP.

‘Drive to protect children’

In a statement, health minister Maria Caulfield said NHS England has “rapidly implemented” a campaign to increase the number of children being vaccinated.

“[It is] part of a major drive to protect children from becoming seriously unwell as measles continues to rise in parts of the country,” she said.

From 6 February, parents and carers of unvaccinated and partially vaccinated children, aged 6 to 11, will receive a letter, text or email inviting them to make an appointment with their child’s GP practice for their missed MMR vaccine.

From 12 March, reminders will begin to be sent out.

Ms Caulfield added: “This national campaign supplements existing measures under way, to work with specific communities to boost uptake in priority areas, for example, by offering MMR pop-ups and whole-school vaccination campaigns.

“Extensive local engagement and communications have also been undertaken with community and faith leaders to encourage groups less likely to get their jab to come forward.”

Additionally, in the West Midlands and London, the invitation letters, texts or emails in February will also be sent to young people aged 16 to 25, to invite them to catch up on their missed MMR vaccinations.

They too will also get a reminder the following month.

Source: West Midlands has 75% of England’s measles cases – BBC News

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