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Measles outbreak declared national incident after HSCC warnings last year

NHS & health news

Measles outbreak declared national incident after HSCC warnings last year

The UK Health Security Agency has today warned that an outbreak of measles in London and the West Midlands could spread to other towns and cities in the UK unless “urgent action” is taken to increase the uptake of the MMR vaccine in local communities.

The UKHSA’s chief executive professor Jenny Harries issued her warning during a visit to Birmingham which has experienced a rise in cases of measles since October. She said “immediate action is needed to boost MMR uptake across communities where vaccine uptake is low.”

As of January 18, there have been 216 confirmed cases and 103 probable cases in the West Midlands since October 1 last year, with 80 per cent of cases in Birmingham and 10 per cent in Coventry. Most children affected are under 10 years old. The UKHSA declared it a “national incident.”

In July last year, the Health and Social Care Committee published a report that warned delivery rates for childhood vaccines in England fell “consistently below the UK average.” NHS England's vaccination strategy, published in December, laid out a series of proposals including improving access and expanding online services and ensuring vaccinations are delivered "in convenient local places" so "underserved populations" can access them, including GP practices, pharmacies, shopping centres, supermarkets and community centres. 

News of the measles outbreak prompted English Pharmacy Board member Thorrun Govind to post on X: “Pharmacies provide a safe space for people to have a chat about vaccinations.”

The UKHSA said professor Harries is in Birmingham “to see first-hand the extensive clinical, health protection, epidemiological and community engagement work on-going to contain the spread of the disease and encourage communities to urgently take up the offer of an MMR vaccine.”

She said: “We know from the (Covid) pandemic that the communities themselves, and those providing services within them, will have the knowledge to best support local families to understand the risks of measles, to learn more about the vaccines that can protect them and to enable innovative vaccine delivery approaches.

“We need a long-term concerted effort to protect individuals and to prevent large measles outbreaks.”






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