Leeds City Council has urged people to get the MMR vaccine after the number of people receiving it fell to its lowest level in a decade.
The vaccine, which is offered to young children, protects against measles, mumps and rubella. Vaccinations have remained available throughout the pandemic, with Leeds City Council saying some practices have even maintained “excellent uptake”.
However, there has been a national decline in vaccination coverage which, according to the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), has caused first-dose coverage in two-year-olds to drop below 90%. Second-dose coverage among five-year-olds across England has fallen to 85.5% – well below the World Health Organization’s (WHO) 95% target for elimination measles.
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Measles is a serious disease and according to the UKHSA almost half of people are unaware of the possible complications the disease can cause. This includes brain inflammation and pneumonia.
According to the same research, only 38% of parents and guardians of children are aware that measles can be fatal. The vaccine provides 99% protection against measles and rubella, a fact that only 56% of parents and guardians are aware of.
Victoria Eaton, the council’s director of public health, said: “Measles can be very unpleasant and lead to serious complications. The good news is that it is a preventable disease and two doses of the vaccine provide almost complete protection.
“It’s never too late for children to get vaccinated against measles, mumps and rubella, so we’re calling on parents and guardians to make sure their children are up to date.”
The WHO estimates that 20 million cases of measles in the UK have been averted thanks to the vaccine which stopped the once widespread disease in its tracks. The vaccine is also estimated to have prevented 4,500 deaths.
Although the vaccine protects children and adults against the disease, it is also important to protect those around you who cannot get vaccinated. Unborn babies, infants, adults and children with weakened immune systems are all unable to get vaccinated and are instead protected by reducing the spread of disease through mass vaccination.
Parents of children who need to be vaccinated or who have missed the vaccine can make an appointment by calling their GP. Further information on the vaccine is available here.