New cases of measles in London prompt vaccination advice

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption The last confirmed case of measles in Haringey was in February

After two confirmed cases of measles in London, public health officials say these vaccines will likely start rolling out later than originally planned.

Public Health England said schools and hospitals should not delay vaccination for young children.

It wants to reassure people that vaccinations are a good practice, and while they shouldn’t miss out, it is still possible to keep them up to date.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption London Public Health Duty Officer Dr Irena Vermeulen said there was a high risk of getting measles

Public Health England said in a statement: “As a precaution, we recommend that you start vaccinations in the new school year.

“For those already in schools with unvaccinated children, it is still possible to get the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine. You might want to do it on the first day of school.

“We want people to think carefully before suggesting someone else does not need to be vaccinated, as it may actually be sending them the wrong message. They may be risking catching the virus.”

Over the weekend, a five-year-old boy was confirmed to have measles in Haringey.

The child attended a local primary school, where at least two other children also have the virus. Two teachers are thought to have caught the disease.

Image copyright Haringey NHS Image caption Public Health England wants to reassure people that vaccinations are a good practice

Following that confirmation, Public Health England announced it would start investigating “at risk children at risk” in the area.

It added that as part of its investigations, it wanted to see if anyone who had not been vaccinated had been in or near the locations where the other cases had been.

In March, the health watchdog NICE recommended that all children receive the MMR jabs.

Irena Vermeulen, Deputy Health Protection and NICE Adviser, said: “We want to reassure people that vaccines are good practice, and that there are many safe ways to get them. As an overall precaution, we would like to reassure people that vaccines are good practice.

“Public Health England may still ask you for your children to be vaccinated at some point in the future. All teenagers should still have MMR jabs as the first step in protecting against the virus.”

As Public Health England readies itself for this, the London Nurses’ Union said the department’s decision was disappointing.

“Anyone suspected of a cold should not have their MMR jab cancelled because of a potential measles outbreak,” said Jenny Jones, chair of the committee for assembly health and safety, and vice chair of Public Health Bexley.

“It would be ridiculous for such an important vaccination to be delayed and we urgently want this advice to be implemented.”

A total of 213 measles cases have been recorded in England and Wales so far this year, an increase of 16% compared to the same period last year.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Parents of unvaccinated children should not delay vaccinating their children, say Public Health England

Health Secretary Matt Hancock urged parents to have the MMR jabs on the NHS website.

He said: “I want all children in school to receive the MMR jab. I trust that this will mean no more risk to the hundreds of children who are still susceptible.”

In response to the latest news, Anne Milton, Minister for Viral Threats and Ebola at the Department of Health and Social Care, said: “There’s absolutely no excuse for parents not having their children vaccinated. We can be confident the MMR vaccine works.

“I would urge those with concerns about their child to speak to their GP as I’m sure they will treat it sensitively and ethically.

“As with all childhood vaccinations we remain committed to working with experts across the world to develop new vaccines.

“While trials are ongoing we have no plans to delay the introduction of new vaccines to further reduce this unacceptable risk.”

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