An outbreak of measles has recently been declared by Public Health Wales in South East Wales. And they are urging everybody to check that children and young people are vaccinated.
To find out what measles is, why it’s important to be vaccinated, and how to find out if your children are immunised, read on.
What is measles?
Measles is a highly infectious viral illness that causes a fever and a rash amongst other symptoms. The disease can be caught through direct contact with an infected person, or through droplets in the air from coughs or sneezes.
Measles can be prevented with the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine. Your child will have been offered this at around 12 months old with a second dose given at around 4 years old.
Why the fuss?
While most people will recover from measles within a week or so, it can lead to some very serious complications in some cases. There are lots of dangerous and permanent complications that can come from contracting measles, the Internet is full of warnings. Because measles is preventable through vaccinations the NHS encourages everyone to be vaccinated.
Why is everyone not vaccinated?
If you were researching the vaccination when the time came for your child to have the MMR, you may have read some confusing reports saying that the injection was linked to autism. This came from a report published in 1998 by Andrew Wakefield. This report has since proven to be false and he had his medical licence taken away. He has not been allowed to practice medicine in the UK since. But unfortunately, the damage had already been done. It scared lots of parents so much that they didn’t have their children vaccinated. This means that people who are aged under 25 now are at the highest risk of catching preventable diseases such as measles.
How do I know if my child is vaccinated?
If you can’t remember if your child had the MMR injection and booster then check the red personal child health record book (for older children it may be pink or blue). All their vaccination details should be in this book, along with dates, batch numbers and even which leg got injected.
If you can’t find the red book, then speak to your GP. They will have this information. If your child hasn’t had all the vaccinations then it’s not too late, contact the surgery. If you’re worried at all about the MMR vaccine then talk to your GP about your concerns or check out the information on the Public Health Wales website.
What if my child can’t be vaccinated?
Some people can’t have vaccinations because of allergies or health conditions. If your child is one of these people, then you can rely on something called herd immunity. When enough people in a community are vaccinated, the illness cannot spread and will die out before an unvaccinated person can catch it. For herd immunity to work, 90-95% of the population needs to be vaccinated. Encourage your friends and family to make sure they’re up-to-date with their vaccinations as it will keep your child (and them) safe.
- MMR (Measles, Mumps and Rubella) Vaccine
- Herd immunity (protecting people who can’t be vaccinated)
If you live in the Cardiff and Vale Health Board area, please take some time to fill in this survey. This will help the NHS to determine which areas are at most risk.
If you need further advice or help and would like to talk to someone for advice, call our friendly, trained advisors on the FamilyPoint helpline. The helpline is open 9am – 5pm Monday to Friday. They can help you to find organisations that can help.