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Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Top NHS boss urges Kirklees residents to get MMR vaccine as measles cases surge

“I am urging all parents and carers to make sure your children are up to date with their 2 MMR doses.

A top NHS boss is urging Kirklees residents to get vaccinated following the recent news of a measles outbreak in the West Midlands.

The percentage of children receiving the MMR vaccine which protects against measles, mumps and rubella has slipped in recent years, with 85% of the UK’s five-year-olds receiving two doses of the vaccine. This is 10% lower than the target set by the World Health Organisation (WHO) needed to achieve and maintain elimination.

Dr David Birkenhead, Medical Director at Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Measles is a very serious and highly contagious disease and the best protection against it is vaccination. I would urge anyone who has not received their MMR vaccine to contact their GP to do so at the earliest opportunity, as cases are on the rise across the country.”

Fortunately, in Kirklees, only two suspected cases of measles have been reported so far this year, according to figures from the UK Health Security Agency. However, this is considered two cases too many, and Kirklees Council is also urging residents to make sure they are vaccinated.

The council’s Director of Public Health, Rachel Spencer-Henshall said: “Vaccines are our best line of defence against diseases like measles and help stop outbreaks occurring in the community. We are working with NHS colleagues to provide a mobile vaccination unit and details around locations and dates will be available on Kirklees Council’s Facebook page as soon as these have been confirmed.

“I am urging all parents and carers to make sure your children are up to date with their 2 MMR doses. It’s never too late to catch up, and you can get the MMR vaccine for free on the NHS whatever your age.”

Spending 15 minutes or more in direct contact with someone infected with measles is enough to catch the infection. People whose immunity is compromised, pregnant women and unvaccinated children are at increased risk of severe disease.

Measles symptoms to be aware of include:

  • high fever
  • sore, red, watery eyes
  • coughing
  • aching and feeling generally unwell
  • a blotchy red-brown rash, which usually appears after the initial symptoms.

Anyone with symptoms that could be measles is advised to stay at home and phone their GP or NHS 111 for advice, rather than visiting the surgery or A&E. This is because measles spreads very quickly and easily so it is important to try and prevent the illness from spreading further.

For more information, please speak to your GP, or health visitor or visit the NHS website for more information on measles.

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