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Check you've had MMR vaccine for a measles free Christmas

Residents are being reminded to check they are up to date with their MMR vaccine before the Christmas holiday season.

Public Health England West Midlands is putting out an appeal after a number of cases of measles were reported in the Birmingham area, almost all affecting children.

Measles is a highly infectious viral illness that can be very unpleasant and can sometimes lead to serious complications, especially in people who are particularly vulnerable or have other health conditions. 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.

Symptoms include a fever; sore, red and watery eyes; coughing; aching; and a blotchy red brown rash, which usually appears after the initial symptoms.

Councillor Paul Sweet, the City of Wolverhampton Council's Cabinet Member for Public Health and Wellbeing, said: "Measles is extremely infectious, and with Christmas fast approaching gatherings will be held where the disease can spread easily.

"It is really important that anyone who hasn't had their 2 doses of the MMR vaccine contacts their GP to get up to date.

"If you're unsure whether you or your children have had the vaccine, please check your child's Red Book or contact your GP. You do not need to have any additional vaccinations if you have had the 2 MMR vaccines previously."

With ongoing outbreaks in other parts of Europe including Romania, Italy and Germany, health chiefs are also warning that anyone travelling to these countries for the festive period is at particularly high risk.

Because measles is so infectious, anyone with symptoms is also being advised to stay at home and phone their GP or NHS 111 for advice in the first instance to prevent the illness spreading further.

Councillor Sweet added: "If you think you could have measles, it's really important to stay away from areas where you could come into contact with lots of other people - so if you have any symptoms please stay away from any Christmas gatherings, and especially from vulnerable patients in hospitals, care homes or similar settings.

"We understand Christmas is a time to visit loved ones, but measles can be serious for these groups and spreads easily in these places."

The free MMR vaccine is a safe and effective way of protecting against measles, as well as mumps and rubella. It is particularly important for parents to take up the offer of MMR vaccination for their children when offered at one year of age and as a pre school booster at 3 years, 4 months of age.

For more information about measles, please visit NHS Choices.

  • released: Thursday 14 December, 2017