Parents of under 5s are being urged to check that their children are up-to-date with their pre-school booster vaccinations as they head off to school or nursery this autumn. A Public Health England (PHE) campaign, backed by Hampshire County Council, underlines the safety and importance of vaccines and advises that children need both doses of MMR to be fully protected against measles, mumps and rubella, plus the 4-in-one booster vaccination which protects against diptheria, tetanus, whooping cough and polio.
Councillor Judith Grajewski, Executive Member for Public Health at Hampshire County Council, said:
Vaccines protect against serious diseases including measles, and worryingly we have seen cases of measles in the South East over the past year – as well as outbreaks in Europe, meaning that travel to and from Europe could spread the disease. We know that 95% of the population need to be vaccinated to reduce the chances of people coming into contact with the virus and yet uptake for the second MMR dose does not meet this target. Anyone who has not been vaccinated can catch it but it is more common in young children. It’s never too late to get up-to-date with MMR – teenagers and adults can also get vaccinated.
According to figures from PHE, 89.8% of children in Hampshire received the second dose of MMR by the time of their 5th birthday; for the 4-in1 booster 88.7% of five year olds in Hampshire had been vaccinated.
The first dose of MMR is usually given to babies as part of their routine vaccination schedule. If you are not sure whether your child has had the booster, you can check in their red book or call the GP surgery.
Measles is a highly infectious viral illness which can lead to serious complications and can be fatal. Serious and life-changing complications are more common in young children – these include severe diarrhoea, ear infections, encephalitis (an infection that causes brain swelling), blindness or severe respiratory infections such as pneumonia.