Risk of measles outbreak in London

  • Date: 19 July 2023

LONDON is at risk of a measles outbreak unless MMR vaccination rates improve, says the UK Health Security Agency.

The UKHSA warns that an outbreak of between 40,000 and 160,000 cases could occur in the capital among those who have never received a measles vaccine (MMR).

It says susceptibility is particularly high among 19 to 25 year olds, affected by unfounded stories in the early 2000s (‘Wakefield cohorts’) and some may still not be fully vaccinated.

The NHS has launched a campaign encouraging people to check their vaccination status, with targeted outreach to groups in London. The risk of large measles outbreaks outside London is said to be low but smaller outbreaks could occur in specific populations, including teenagers, young people and under-vaccinated communities.

There have been 128 cases of measles between 1 January and 30 June of this year compared to 54 cases in the whole of 2022. Two-thirds were detected in London although cases have been seen in all regions.

The UKHSA says achieving high vaccination coverage across the population (herd immunity) is important as it indirectly helps protect very young infants (under one) and other vulnerable groups. It adds that all children and adults should catch up on any missed vaccinations, and this is especially important if travelling overseas this summer.

Jane Clegg, Regional Chief Nurse for the NHS in London said: “Measles can easily spread between unvaccinated people and can be serious, but it is preventable, which is why we continue to encourage Londoners to take up the vaccine – with GPs calling over 10,000 parents of unvaccinated children, and hundreds booking appointments to get vaccinated as a result.

“Cases of measles in the capital remain low but it’s really important that people check that they, and their children, are up to date with their jabs and protected against MMR.”

This page was correct at the time of publication. Any guidance is intended as general guidance for members only. If you are a member and need specific advice relating to your own circumstances, please contact one of our advisers.

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