The British Society for Immunology has written to Public Health England to highlight our concerns over measles immunisation rates in the UK. This follows the announcement from the World Health Organization (WHO) that a measles outbreak is currently spreading across Europe. 559 cases were reported to WHO Europe in January, with preliminary information estimating that this rate will rise sharply in February.
Writing to Dr Mary Ramsey, Head of Immunisation at Public Health England, Professor Peter Openshaw, President of the BSI, said, "The ongoing outbreak of measles across Europe is yet another reminder that comprehensive vaccination is vital to protect the population, including those who are themselves unable to be vaccinated because of illness or medical treatment." He went on to highlight that only 88.2% of children in England have received both doses of the measles vaccine by the age of five, which is significantly lower that the WHO's target of 95%. Additionally, there is significant regional variation in these statistics, with coverage in parts of London particularly low.
The BSI is committed to supporting immunisation programmes and doing all it can to promote the uptake of life-saving vaccination.