Parents urged to vaccinate children against measles as number of cases surges

Image above: A child infected with measles

England has seen 347 confirmed cases of measles in the last four months

There has been a surge in measles cases among children across the UK, and London’s health providers are sounding the alarm, urging parents to prioritise vaccination against the highly contagious disease.

Over the last few weeks, there has been a concerning rise in measles cases, says LB Hounslow’s health team, with 347 confirmed cases reported in England in the last four months alone, according to government figures.

Speaking to The Chiswick Calendar, Kelly O’Neil, Director of Public Health for the LB Hounslow said while there hasn’t been a community outbreak of measles since 2022 in Hounslow, it was important to remain vigilant:

“The last community measles outbreak in Hounslow was in 2022, and while we haven’t had any outbreaks this winter, we have been responding to individual cases and family clusters of measles. We will remain vigilant as we have seen an increase in outbreaks in neighbouring London boroughs.”

Measles, characterised by symptoms such as cough, runny nose, rash, sore red watery eyes, and fever, poses a significant risk, particularly in environments such as classrooms where unvaccinated children are present. Ms. O’Neil warned:

“In a classroom of children, it’s highly likely that one case of measles will affect all unvaccinated children.”

Image above: Hounslow’s Director of Public Health Kelly O’Neil

Imperative children are vaccinated against measles, says Hounslow’s Director of Public Health

Highlighting the importance of vaccination, Ms. O’Neil stressed that it was “vital” children be up to date with both doses of their MMR vaccinations, to avoid getting ill and spreading measles to other children.

The MMR vaccine, which protects against measles, mumps, and rubella, is safe, free, and highly effective. Ms. O’Neil encouraged parents to check their child’s vaccination status and ensure they are up to date.

“If your child has missed one or both doses of the MMR vaccine, please make an appointment with their GP to get up to date with their vaccinations.”

Hounslow’s Public Health team has been putting out the message by engaging with communities in schools and early years providers, to raise awareness about measles and the importance of vaccination. Ms. O’Neil explained:

“We are constantly working to increase knowledge around MMR so that we can combat any misinformation that prevents people from vaccinating their children.”

Addressing concerns about vaccine hesitancy, Ms. O’Neil added:

“It’s also never too late to get vaccinated, so we are encouraging people to catch up with both MMR doses if they missed out themselves when they were young.”

If parents have any questions or concerns, they are encouraged to reach out to Hounslow’s Public Health team at publichealth@hounslow.gov.uk for guidance and support.