Cases of measles are increasing in the country and the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has declared a national incident.
Measles spreads very easily among people who haven’t had the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) jab, especially in nurseries and schools. It can be a very unpleasant illness, and can sometimes be very serious and lead to hospitalisation.
Having two doses of the MMR vaccine is the best way to prevent the illness.
Cllr Tim Swift, Calderdale Council’s Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Public Health, said:
“There’s been an increase in cases of measles in West Yorkshire in the last few weeks.
“The Council and our local health and care partners have been working together for several months to get prepared for any possible cases and outbreaks. Now we’re encouraging people to help protect each other by getting vaccinated – this is a really kind thing to do for our whole community to keep us all safe.
“Although uptake of the vaccine is relatively high in Calderdale, there is more we need to do. Vaccines are our best line of defence and help prevent outbreaks like we’ve seen in other areas of the country.
“If you or your child aren’t fully vaccinated, it’s not too late. You can get your two MMR doses for free, which offer lifelong protection against measles, by contacting your GP.”
Children are offered the first dose of the MMR vaccine when aged one year, and the second dose aged three years and four months.
Dr James Thomas, Medical Director at NHS West Yorkshire Integrated Care Board said:
“There is a real risk of a measles outbreak in West Yorkshire – vaccination rates have fallen over recent years, and with 27 confirmed cases last year we had the highest number of cases outside of London and the West Midlands.
“Measles is more than just a rash; it is a serious, potentially life-changing condition that spreads very easily. It can lead to severe illness and even death in children. For pregnant women, it can cause premature birth, low birth weight and still births.
“But measles, as well as mumps and rubella, is preventable, so if you or your child have not had your MMR jab, it is really important that you come forward.”
It is particularly easy to catch measles in places where people are in close contact with each other, such as nurseries and schools. Symptoms include a high fever, sore, red and watery eyes, and a blotchy, red-brown rash. It may be harder to see on brown and black skin.
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.
Anyone with symptoms is advised to stay at home and phone their GP or NHS 111 for advice, rather than visiting the surgery or A&E, to prevent the illness spreading further.
On the NHS website there is information on the symptoms of measles, how to look after yourself if you have measles, how to avoid catching or spreading the illness, getting vaccinated, and the possible complications of measles: www.nhs.uk/conditions/measles(external link)
Watch the Council’s Director of Public Health, Debs Harkins explain more about measles and the importance of vaccination, at https://youtu.be/5x-ZaidxIFI(external link)