Lincolnshire parents asked to check children’s red books to ensure MMR jabs are up-to-date as UK measles cases rise
Parents in Lincolnshire are being urged to check their children’s ‘Red Book’ health records to ensure MMR vaccinations are up-to-date as the NHS launches a catch up programme for those missing a jab.
Since October there have been 347 confirmed measles cases in England - 127 recorded in the first three weeks of January alone – which has prompted the UK Health Security Agency to declare a ‘national incident’.
While the majority of cases are currently within London and the West Midlands, government health officials fear a wider spread because vaccination uptake rates have dropped below the 95% target needed to create herd immunity and keep the disease at bay.
Measles is highly infectious. One in five children who catch the disease are hospitalised, and on rare occasions the infection can be fatal.
Children are offered the first dose of the MMR vaccine at one year and the second dose usually at three years and four months.
But with vaccination rates now at their lowest for a decade, public health officials in the county are asking families to check children’s health records, contained within the Red Books they are given at birth, to establish which immunisations they’ve had for measles, mumps and rubella.
In a bulletin titled ‘Measles update for parents and carers’ issued by Lincolnshire Health Protection Service the message says: “We encourage all parents to check their child’s vaccination status by looking at their red book.
“If there is no record, parents can contact their GP to confirm vaccination status and to request an appointment if necessary.”
Getting a missing jab
The NHS catch-up campaign for missed MMR vaccines will see health officials attempt to contact all parents of children aged six to 11 to encourage MMR uptake should they have missed one or two doses.
Families can also bring their own children of any age forward by contacting their local surgery, if they know their offspring – or themselves – don’t have adequate protection and have missed injections.
Nine out of every 10 unvaccinated children, explains the bulletin, are at risk of catching measles if someone in their school class were to have it.
Natalie Liddle, head of health protection at Lincolnshire County Council said: “As Measles cases continue to rise across England, we remain vigilant. There are currently no outbreaks of measles detected across Lincolnshire.
“We are currently working with NHS colleagues and wider stakeholders to develop localised plans that will aid our preparedness and ability to respond to rises in cases and to local outbreaks. In the meantime, we are utilising UKHSA national materials and digital assets to help increase awareness through targeted communications and highlight the importance of vaccination.”