25 April 2019
An analysis conducted by UNICEF and released today estimated that 169 million children globally had missed out on receiving a vaccine against measles in the last eight years. In the response, the British Society for Immunology has issued the following statement.
Professor Arne Akbar, President of the British Society for Immunology, said:
“Measles is a highly contagious viral disease that can lead to very serious complications, including death. Because the measles virus spreads so easily between individuals, it’s vital that a high percentage of population is vaccinated to block this spread – the World Health Organization state we need 95% coverage.
“The figures presented in the UNICEF report are very concerning, both in terms of the steep rise of measles cases globally and the number of children who haven’t completed the full vaccination schedule. We have a safe and effective vaccine at hand that stops people contracting measles and we need to ensure children benefit from the protection it confers against this nasty disease.
“In the UK, we also saw a steep rise in measles cases in 2018, particularly in teenagers and young adults who missed out on their MMR vaccine when they were younger – this trend needs to be reversed. In the last annual statistics, vaccination coverage for England was 91% of children receiving the first MMR vaccine by their second birthday, with 87% receiving the second dose of the vaccine by their fifth birthday. We should be doing better to protect our communities, with Government, NHS and local authorities working together to achieve this.
“Parents who are concerned should talk to their GP in the first instance. If you or your child has missed out on the benefits of vaccination, it’s not too late to get immunised. Don’t regret it by waiting to catch one of these diseases.”
You can read the full press release from UNICEF on their website.