…By Larry John for TDPel Media.
The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has published figures indicating a concerning increase in measles cases in London between January 1 and April 20 this year, with a total of 33 infections reported.
This number represents 66% of the overall UK figure of 49 cases during the same period.
In 2022, just 54 cases were reported in the UK. Half of the cases in London this year were found in children aged between 1 and 9.
The measles virus can cause serious complications such as pneumonia, meningitis, and, in rare cases, long-term disability or death.
Symptoms include high fever, sore red watery eyes, and a blotchy red brown rash.
Vaccination coverage against measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) has fallen in recent years due to pandemic-related disruptions.
Children are offered their first MMR dose when they turn 1, and the second at 3 years and 4 months.
However, according to the most recent NHS Digital statistics, only 80% of London children had completed the full vaccination course by their second birthday, a drop of 5% in five years and the lowest nationally reported figure.
London boroughs with the lowest vaccination rates are Hackney (65.4%), Camden (71.6%), and Enfield (72.9%).
The World Health Organisation (WHO) warns that Europe may experience a resurgence in measles unless vaccination coverage among young children is maintained.
The UKHSA states that large outbreaks of measles are currently underway in multiple countries in South Asia and Africa.
Dr Vanessa Saliba, Consultant Epidemiologist at the UKHSA, states that “Measles spreads very easily and can lead to complications that require a stay in hospital and on rare occasions can cause lifelong disability or death, so it is very concerning to see cases starting to pick up this year.”
NHS Director of Vaccinations and Screening, Steve Russell, urges parents to review their child’s vaccination status to keep them and others protected from measles, mumps, and rubella.
Analysis and Commentary
The recent rise in measles cases in London highlights the importance of maintaining high vaccination coverage rates against preventable diseases.
The pandemic has disrupted healthcare systems globally, leading to a decrease in routine childhood vaccinations.
As a result, the UK has seen a decline in MMR vaccination coverage, leaving children vulnerable to measles.
Measles is a highly infectious disease that can have serious complications, particularly for young children.
The WHO’s warning about a possible resurgence of measles in Europe highlights the importance of maintaining high vaccination coverage rates among young children.
Parents have a responsibility to ensure that their children are up to date with their vaccinations, not only to protect them but also to prevent the spread of diseases to others.
Health officials need to work towards rebuilding trust in vaccines and ensuring that routine childhood vaccinations are accessible to all.
The rise in measles cases in London is a reminder of the need for a coordinated and sustained effort to maintain high vaccination coverage rates.
It is essential that parents take action to ensure their children are protected from preventable diseases and that healthcare systems work to increase vaccination coverage rates.