A discredited study by Andrew Wakefield, published in 1998, linking the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine with autism, siginficantly undermined UK efforts to achieve the 95% uptake needed to elimate measles.
Parental concerns led to a decline in uptake and by 2006 transmission of measles had risen to endemic levels; disproportionally impacting primary school children, a further large outbreak in 2012 affected teenagers.
Targetted, national campaigns during the new millennium saw first dose coverage of 2 year old children peak at 93% and by 2016 measles had been eliminated* in the UK (World Health Organsiation, 2017).
“Elimination indicates only that measles is no longer native to the UK, not that it has been eradicated! Measles remains endemic in many countries around the world, UK travellers not fully vaccinated remain susceptible”.
Where MMR uptake has fallen below 95% several large outbreaks of measles have occurred; young people and adults aged 15 years – who missed out on MMR vaccination when they were younger – have been particularly affected.
Measles is the most infectious illness known to man. It is much easier to catch than flu or Ebola. Measles can be serious and lead to complications such as infections of the lungs and brain, and on rare occassions, can be fatal.
Regrettably, the UK and three other European countries lost the ‘elimination’ status as of June 2019 due entirely to the decline in recent years and attributed to the rise of misinformation on social media.
If you have not had 2 doses of MMR vaccine (or are unsure) you remain at risk – it’s never too late to get vaccinated!