Mumps and measles: an open thread

Have the outbreaks of measles, mumps and rubella been contained or are they still spreading? This event, held in Tower Hamlets, is an opportunity for community leaders to talk to public health, NHS staff…

Mumps and measles: an open thread

Have the outbreaks of measles, mumps and rubella been contained or are they still spreading?

This event, held in Tower Hamlets, is an opportunity for community leaders to talk to public health, NHS staff and co-workers about the response to community outbreaks and progress made.

Community and health workers will discuss how the outbreak has affected and will look at how community contacts are kept informed and contacts removed.

Visitors will be provided with a free hand-held case diagnostic kit so they can test their own children if necessary.

In conjunction with the event, Vectome and the Greater London Authority are also offering samples of measles vaccine.

A number of speakers will be on hand to discuss the response to outbreaks and what the public health service has been doing to keep children and their families safe.

Children under the age of 18 are not vaccinated. When children become old enough, they are given a licensed MMR vaccine which protects against measles, mumps and rubella (MMR). At the moment in London only about 80% of children in this age group are fully vaccinated.

Exposure to a herd of people who have been vaccinated with MMR can make children susceptible to measles infection. In other words, they are protected against disease from people who are immune.

The first two doses of MMR immunisation are given to pregnant women to protect their babies at birth. Newborns are most at risk from an outbreak of MMR, as the infection remains dormant in the placenta, keeping it inactive and potentially delaying the immune response to contact.

An estimated one in 500 babies are still vulnerable to disease in the newborns as they don’t have enough antibodies to fight off infection.

The second dose is given for free to children aged one to four years and one month, using three doses of the MMR vaccine plus a hepatitis B vaccination. There is currently a waiting list for this immunisation which lasts six months and adults born before 1977 are also eligible.

Children on the waiting list do not have to go for the vaccine at this time. If they are eligible they should check with their GP practice before going on the list. If they are on the list, they may not get it until 2021 or 2022 at the earliest.

Dr Simon Ramsay, consultant paediatrician with CVID told the Guardian: “With the vaccine, we have the opportunity to try and protect against measles. But you can never vaccinate the world. There is no way you can take a vaccine for measles and wipe it out, that’s just not possible. The challenge is how to reduce the risk for children living in the community.”

He told the Guardian vaccination was an issue of dual benefit, benefiting the individual as well as the wider community.

In the lead up to the event, CVID-19 has also been running a local programme. From March 5, CVID-19 working in London has been working with the Greater London Authority on community and parental engagement.

Measles is the third most common cause of death for under-fives and childhood deaths from measles were 37% in England in 2012. Vaccination is the only way to guarantee you are protected against measles and mumps. Children and adults are able to get vaccinated in the community but, if their family hasn’t had a vaccine and they haven’t had it themselves, they are a “herd immunity risk”.

Where to get the measles vaccine:

Available to all UK residents between the ages of one and 18 by invitation letter after proof of age and proof of funding. No one under 18 can be vaccinated un-announced

More information about vaccines can be found at Childhoodhealth.com/vaccinations-and-preventatives

This event is supported by the Health Education England-led strategy on childhood vaccination, which runs from 2012 to 2015.

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• For the latest news and resources about MMR, click here

Additional reporting by Jane Perrone

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