Call for MMR vaccinations after confirmation of measles cases in Leeds

Public Health England is encouraging people in Leeds to check they and their children have had two doses of MMR vaccine. Picture: PA
Public Health England is encouraging people in Leeds to check they and their children have had two doses of MMR vaccine. Picture: PA

Confirmation that measles is circulating in Leeds has led to a call for people to make sure they are vaccinated.

Public Health England (PHE) has reported an increase in measles across the country and today said there are three confirmed and four suspected cases of measles in Leeds since the beginning of October.

Those affected are said to be recovering, but the agency is encouraging people in the city to check they and their children have had two doses of MMR vaccine.

PHE is working with Leeds City Council and the NHS to make sure anyone in Leeds who needs a vaccination to protect against the virus is aware.

Helen McAuslane, consultant in Health Protection with Public Health England (PHE) Yorkshire and the Humber, said: “Those affected in Leeds are all recovering but it’s important to be aware that measles can be a very serious illness and lead to severe complications, especially in people who are particularly vulnerable or have other health conditions.”

Measles is a highly infectious viral illness, so anyone with symptoms is also being advised to stay at home and phone their GP or NHS 111 for advice, rather than visiting the surgery or A&E, to prevent the illness spreading further.

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.

Ms McAuslane added: “The free MMR vaccine is a safe and effective way of protecting against measles, as well as mumps and rubella.

"It’s 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 three years, four months of age.

"If children and young adults have missed these vaccinations in the past, it’s important to take up the vaccine now from GPs, particularly in light of the recent cases in Leeds.

"Check your child’s Red Book to see if they’ve received MMR vaccinations as scheduled, or check with your GP surgery if you’re unsure. Most healthy adults will have developed some immunity to measles but can still receive two doses of the vaccine from their GP too.

“Measles is extremely infectious to anyone who may not be immune. If you think you could have measles, it is really important to stay away from areas where you could come into contact with lots of other people – especially vulnerable patients in hospitals, care homes or other settings.”

Measles symptoms to be aware of include high fever; sore, red, watery eyes; coughing; aching and feeling generally unwell; or a blotchy red brown rash, which usually appears after the initial symptoms.

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