Measles is a highly infectious disease, and the numbers of cases are on the rise across the borough, London and England.
Councillor Josh Blacker, Ealing Council’s cabinet member for healthy lives, said: “Measles is one of the most contagious infections known, and 9 out of 10 unvaccinated people can become infected if in a close environment to an infected person. That means if you or someone in your family have not been vaccinated, and come into contact with an infected person, there’s a 90% chance of catching it.
“Many people think measles is just a rash, but it can lead to severe illness and even death, and if caught during pregnancy, can cause premature birth, low birth weight and still birth.”
Be aware of the signs and symptoms of measles, which include high fever; sore, red, watery eyes; coughing; aching and feeling generally unwell; and a blotchy red brown rash, which usually appears after the first symptoms (although sometimes this is harder to see on darker skin).
If you or someone you know has a fever (over 38 degrees Celsius) and a rash, stay at home and call your doctor or NHS 111 for advice. Stay away from GP surgeries and A&E departments unless told otherwise – you could spread the illness to others.
“Vaccination is the best defence against measles,” said Dr Vijay Tailor, Ealing’s borough medical director. “Most children have protection through the MMR vaccine, but nationally, around 1 in 10 do not, so are at risk of catching the disease, and in some parts of Ealing, this figure is even higher. I urge parents to check that their children are up to date with their vaccines.”
Children generally receive the MMR vaccine at age 1 and then a second dose at 3 years 4 months. Both doses are needed for maximum protection. A 95% uptake is needed to achieve protection for the whole community.
If you or your child have missed any MMR vaccinations or are unsure if either of you is up to date, contact your doctor to check. You can also check your child’s red book to see if their vaccine is up to date.
The vaccine is free, takes just a few minutes to administer, and appointments can be booked to catch up at any age. You can find more information about the MMR vaccine on the NHS website or if you have any questions or worries about vaccinations, here’s a video link that helps explain them.
The council’s Family Information Service webpage on measles can also be translated into different languages.
In the UK there are two types of MMR vaccine – the most common one contains gelatine. If parents do not wish for their children to have the gelatine-containing vaccine, they should speak to their GP/health professional for more information and a gelatine-free vaccine can be made available.
How to get the vaccine
The parents and guardians of children aged 1-5 years old, who are missing a first or second MMR vaccination, have or will be receiving a reminder, inviting them to take up the vaccine.
In the next few weeks parents and guardians of older children who are missing a MMR vaccination will also receive a reminder invite.
Locally, every Wednesday from 9am-4.45pm at CP House, 97-107 Uxbridge Road, Ealing W5 5TL, first and second doses of MMR vaccine are available to those aged 1 and above who are missing a vaccine.
Outreach roving clinics will also be popping up across the borough over the coming weeks and months. Details or where and when these will be shared as and when they become available.