MEASLES AND PROTECTION WITH THE MMR IMMUNISATION
Measles is one of the most infectious viral diseases in humans, spread by coughs and sneezes.
It can lead to serious complications such as pneumonia, encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) , blindness and deafness. In addition, measles infection damages and suppresses the whole immune system. This means that people who have had measles are more likely to catch other infectious diseases. This effect can last for as much as three years.
Anyone of any age can catch measles, and it’s particularly important for young adults to make sure they’ve had both doses of the MMR vaccine before they think about starting a family, as measles infection can harm the unborn baby.
The vaccine is very effective. After 2 doses 99% of people will be protected against measles and rubella, and 88% against mumps, giving immunity for life.
The first MMR dose is usually given at 12 months when the immune system responds best and the second at about 3 years 4 months.
However you can catch up on the jabs at any point, whether you are a child or an adult.
Currently vaccine rates are well below what is recommended and there is significant concern about the number of measles cases presenting to hospitals, particularly in children. Children and young people who have missed the MMR vaccine are particularly at risk.
Measles usually starts with cold-like symptoms, red painful eyes and sensitivity to light, a high temperature, and greyish-white spots in the mouth and throat. A red-brown blotchy rash usually appears a few days later, spreading from behind the ears to the rest of the body. Rarely the symptoms can lead to serious complications.
Why childhood immunisation is important
Immunisation prepares the body to fight serious infections that might happen in the future. Young babies are very vulnerable to infections, so they need to be protected as early as possible.
Your child needs several different vaccines to be fully protected, so it’s really important to complete their childhood immunisation programme.