Health officials are scrambling to stem an alarming tide of measles across England amid a ‘worryingly low’ uptake of the MMR jab. 

Cases have soared to a 10-year high, fuelled by an escalating crisis in the epicentre of the West Midlands. 

But UK Health Security Agency bosses today revealed they are ‘now starting to see clusters of cases in other regions’. 

As few as half of children have had both measles, mumps and rubella vaccine doses in parts of London. 

Similarly low levels are also seen in Liverpool, Manchester and Birmingham.

UKHSA surveillance figures show another 56 cases were confirmed in England last week, matching levels seen in the previous fortnight. It takes the total since the current crisis took off in October past 500, raising fears that attempts to contain the 'national incident' are not working

UKHSA surveillance figures show another 56 cases were confirmed in England last week, matching levels seen in the previous fortnight. It takes the total since the current crisis took off in October past 500, raising fears that attempts to contain the ‘national incident’ are not working 

While the West Midlands, particularly Birmingham, accounted for more than half of measles cases in the past month, officials noted that rates have plateaued. Twelve per cent of cases were logged in London, with one in ten in the North West and a similar proportion in Yorkshire and The Humber. Pa rents have been urged to check their kids have had both doses of the jab

While the West Midlands, particularly Birmingham, accounted for more than half of measles cases in the past month, officials noted that rates have plateaued. Twelve per cent of cases were logged in London, with one in ten in the North West and a similar proportion in Yorkshire and The Humber. Pa rents have been urged to check their kids have had both doses of the jab 

Cold-like symptoms, such as a fever, cough and a runny or blocked nose, are usually the first signal of measles. A few days later, some people develop small white spots on the inside of their cheeks and the back of their lips. The tell-tale measles rash also develops, usually starting on the face and behind the ears, before spreading to the rest of the body

Cold-like symptoms, such as a fever, cough and a runny or blocked nose, are usually the first signal of measles. A few days later, some people develop small white spots on the inside of their cheeks and the back of their lips. The tell-tale measles rash also develops, usually starting on the face and behind the ears, before spreading to the rest of the body

UKHSA surveillance figures show another 56 cases were confirmed in England last week, matching levels seen in the previous fortnight. 

It takes the total since the current crisis took off in October past 500, raising fears that attempts to contain the ‘national incident’ are not working.

While the West Midlands, particularly Birmingham, accounted for more than half of measles cases in the past month, officials noted that rates have plateaued. 

Twelve per cent of cases were logged in London, with one in ten in the North West and a similar proportion in Yorkshire and The Humber. 

Parents have been urged to check their kids have had both doses of the jab.

Without the two MMR jabs, experts warn they risk becoming seriously ill from the extremely contagious virus and passing it on to others.

Measles, which produces flu-like symptoms as well as the tell-tale rash, can cause very serious and even fatal health complications if it spreads to the lungs or the brain. 

One in five children who get infected will be hospitalised, according to estimates, with one in 15 developing serious complications like meningitis or sepsis.

Dr Vanessa Saliba, UKHSA Consultant epidemiologist, said: ‘As expected, due to worryingly low MMR vaccine uptake in some areas across the country, we are now starting to see clusters of cases in other regions. 

‘While parents are coming forward to take up the offer of the MMR vaccine for their children, there are still 100s of thousands of children who remain unprotected and therefore remain at risk of serious complications or life-long disability. 

‘But measles is completely preventable with vaccination. I strongly urge parents to take up the offer of the MMR vaccine now to make sure their child is protected.’ 

Two doses of the MMR vaccine offer up to 99 per cent protection against the trio of illnesses, which can lead to meningitis, hearing loss and problems during pregnancy.

At least 95 per cent of the population needs to be vaccinated to prevent outbreaks, under public health guidance.

But nationally, the proportion of five-year-olds who are fully jabbed has fallen to 84.5 per cent — the lowest in more than a decade.

Latest NHS Digital also shows up to four in ten children in parts of England haven’t had both MMR jabs by the time they turn five.

Just 56.3 per cent of youngsters that age in Hackney, east London, were fully-protected against measles, mumps and rubella in 2022/23.

After Hackney came Camden (63.6 per cent) and Enfield (64.8 per cent).

Outside of London, the lowest uptake rates for both doses among five year olds were logged in Liverpool (73.6 per cent), Manchester (74.5 per cent) and Birmingham (75.1 per cent).

In England, 89.3 per cent of two-year-olds received their first dose of the MMR vaccine in the year to March 2023 (blue line), up from 89.2 per cent the previous year. Meanwhile, 88.7 per cent of two-year-olds had both doses, down from 89 per cent a year earlier

In England, 89.3 per cent of two-year-olds received their first dose of the MMR vaccine in the year to March 2023 (blue line), up from 89.2 per cent the previous year. Meanwhile, 88.7 per cent of two-year-olds had both doses, down from 89 per cent a year earlier

 

Uptake of the MMR jab collapsed in the late 90s and early 2000s in the wake of a 1998 study by the now discredited medic Andrew Wakefield which falsely linked the jabs to autism.

NHS chiefs last month launched a catch-up programme for jabs, with 3.4million kids under the age of 16 feared to be unprotected.

Invitations have also been sent to people up to the age of 25 in parts of the Midlands, Greater Manchester and London who have not had both MMR doses.

It comes as England’s top doctor today warned pressure on NHS hospitals this winter is ‘not letting up’. 

Fresh weekly figures, published today, shows that there were three times as many flu patients in hospital every day last week (2,390) than in the same week last year (737). 

NHS national medical director, Professor Sir Stephen Powis, said: ‘It is clear that the significant pressure the NHS has been experiencing this winter is not letting up, with thousands more beds occupied and three times as many flu patients as last year, on top of continued high demand for ambulance services and NHS 111.’

Dr Tim Cooksley, immediate past president of the Society for Acute Medicine, also warned the pressures faced by hospitals shows the ‘NHS finds itself in an eternal winter’. 

He added: ‘The pressures throughout the system are perfectly and bleakly illustrated in urgent and emergency care where patients experience appalling conditions and prolonged waits.’

WHAT JABS SHOULD I HAVE HAD BY AGE 18?

Vaccinations for various unpleasant and deadly diseases are given free on the NHS to children and teenagers.

Here is a list of all the jabs someone should have by the age of 18 to make sure they and others across the country are protected:

Eight weeks old

  • 6-in-1 vaccine for diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, polio, Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib), and hepatitis B.
  • Pneumococcal (PCV)
  • Rotavirus
  • Meningitis B 

12 weeks old

  • Second doses of 6-in-1 and Rotavirus 

16 weeks old

  • Third dose of 6-in-1
  • Second doses of PCV and men. B 

One year old 

  • Hib/meningitis C
  • Measles, mumps and rubella (MMR)
  • Third dose of PCV and meningitis B 

Two to eight years old

  • Annual children’s flu vaccine

Three years, four months old

  • Second dose of MMR
  • 4-in-1 pre-school booster for diphtheria, tetanus, polio and whooping cough

12-13 years old (girls)

  • HPV (two doses within a year)

14 years old

  • 3-in-1 teenage booster for diphtheria, tetanus and polio
  • MenACWY  

 Source: NHS Choices

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