Parents of children in Wolverhampton who have missed their MMR (mumps, measles and rubella) vaccine are being encouraged to get it as soon as possible following a measles outbreak in parts of the West Midlands.
Public Health England is writing to all West Midlands GPs asking them to be alert to the symptoms of measles and to take the opportunity to immunise children and adults who may not have received two doses of the MMR vaccine.
The call comes as the outbreak, which originally focused in Birmingham and Solihull, spreads to other parts of the region – though no cases have yet been reported in Wolverhampton.
Symptoms of measles include: a high fever; sore, red, watery eyes; coughing; aching and feeling generally unwell; and a blotchy red brown rash, which usually appears after the initial symptoms.
John Denley, the City of Wolverhampton Council’s Director of Public Health, said: “Measles can be a very serious illness and lead to severe complications, especially in people who are particularly vulnerable or have other health conditions.
“The good news is that the misery caused by measles is entirely preventable, and the free MMR vaccine is a safe and effective way of protecting against measles, as well as mumps and rubella.”
The first MMR vaccine is given when a child is one-year-old, with a booster due at three years and four months of age. Parents who have missed one or both appointments are urged to contact their GP as soon as possible. Parents can check their child’s Red Book to see if they’ve received MMR vaccinations as scheduled, or speak to their GP if they are not sure.
Dr Bharat Sibal, from Public Health England West Midlands, said: “Most of the recent cases we’ve seen had not received the required doses of the MMR vaccine.
“It is possible for anyone at any age to get measles, and the illness can be more severe in teenagers and adults than in young children, which is why we are trying to make sure anyone who has missed vaccinations get immunised as soon as possible.”