Merton parents urged to protect their children against measles

Parents and guardians in Merton are being encouraged to take their pre-schoolers to their GP to get their measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccines.  

A new national campaign warns of the serious risk from highly contagious measles, which can be prevented if children have had two doses of the MMR vaccine. MMR coverage across England is the lowest for a decade, with more than one in 10 school entry-age children at risk because they have not had their jabs.  

The World Health Organisation sets a target of 95% of children vaccinated to achieve ‘herd immunity’ which protects those vaccinated but also helps protect the proportion of the population who for medical reasons cannot be vaccinated. In Merton, 89% of five-year-olds had received one dose of the MMR vaccines in 2020/2021, and this drops to 72% for those receiving two doses by the time they are five. Children can get their second dose from the age of three years and four months onwards. Two doses of the MMR vaccine give 99% protection against measles. 

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, there has been a drop in the number of children getting MMR jabs and other childhood vaccines. Unvaccinated children are at higher risk of contracting preventable diseases such as measles, which can lead to complications such as ear infections, pneumonia, and inflammation of the brain. These can require hospitalisation and on rare occasions can lead to long-term disability or even death. 

Councillor Rebecca Lanning, Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Public Health, said: ‘There has been so much focus on COVID-19 over the past two years, but we must not forget about the risk of potentially deadly measles, which has not disappeared. 

‘Even a small decline in uptake can lead to outbreaks so even if your child has missed a vaccination, please contact your GP practice to book an appointment as soon as you can to make sure they – and their school friends – have maximum protection.’ 

It’s best to have vaccinations on time, but you can still catch up on most vaccines if you miss them. Speak to your GP surgery if you’re not sure if you or your child has had two doses of the MMR vaccine, at any age, or you think you or your child has missed any vaccinations. 

If you want more information about the MMR vaccine, find out more by visiting the NHS website.