A campaign to ensure that children are immunised against mumps, measles and rubella (MMR) is currently being rolled out across Bath and the local area.
The Department of Health, Public Health England and NHS England have launched a catch up campaign for 10-16 year olds. Priority is being given to young people who were either unvaccinated or partially vaccinated for MMR.
The Council took over responsibility for local Public Health from the NHS in April and is working with partners, including the Bath and North East Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group, to encourage young people who may have missed out on the early childhood MMR vaccinations to get immunised.
Dr Bruce Laurence, the Council’s Director of Public Health, said: “Across England this year there has been over 900 confirmed cases of measles and although there are currently no confirmed cases in Bath and North East Somerset, we are taking the necessary steps to protect our residents against this highly infectious disease particularly as neighbouring authorities have reported cases. Measles is a serious condition which is, at the very least, a most unpleasant illness and which can lead to dangerous complications.
“As part of the national MMR catch-up campaign, all local GP practices are currently in the process of identifying and inviting unvaccinated or partially vaccinated children between 10 and 16 years of age to the practice for a total of two doses of the MMR vaccine. If your child receives an invitation from the GP we urge you to make an appointment to get your child fully vaccinated.
“As a further precaution, Bath & North East Somerset Council is encouraging parents who know that their child has not received two doses of the MMR vaccine – whatever their age – to arrange an appointment with their GP. If you are unsure if your child has been vaccinated you can check with your GP surgery.
“MMR is a very safe and highly effective vaccine, and I would encourage parents to take up the offer from their GP to ensure that all children are protected against measles”.
The campaign will also target local groups where a lower rate of MMR take-up has been identified. By working closely with healthcare partners. the Council aims to ensure that 95% of 10-16 year olds in Bath and North East Somerset will have received two doses of the MMR vaccine by the end of August 2013.
This will reflect the immunisation levels now being achieved in younger children and will provide a level of widespread immunity that will reduce the potential for the transmission and spread of measles into other age groups, especially to babies under 12 months old, by the beginning of the new school year.
All front line health and social care staff are being encouraged to check if they have previously received two doses of the MMR vaccine and if necessary request two doses of the MMR vaccine from their own GP.
Be vigilant to the signs and symptoms of measles. These include a rash for up to three days, fever for at least one day and at least one of the following: cough, cold or conjunctivitis.
If you suspect measles call your GP for an over-the-phone assessment. Patients are advised, wherever possible, to stay at home from work or school and keep away from those who maybe unvaccinated.
If your child receives an invitation from the GP, make an appointment to get your child fully vaccinated.
For more information on measles and MMR, visit www.bathnes.gov.uk/measles.
A Facebook page, www.facebook.com/getvaccinatedEngland has also been set up for parents with any questions about the MMR vaccine. You can also look out for updates on Twitter through the hashtag #gettheMMR or by following @PHE_uk.