The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health has urged that doctors should be on ‘high alert’ as vaccine rates in young children have dipped to a ten year low, resulting in unprotected children at risk of infectious and dangerous diseases.
It is advised that at least 95% children should have been double-vaccinated by the age of five but current figures show that the UK is below that target with only 84.5% having had the second protective measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine — the lowest rate since 2010-2011.
What are the signs of measles?
Measles is a highly contagious virus and just 15 minutes in the company of somebody with the virus can lead to infection. For pregnant people, immunocompromised and unvaccinated children, this virus can quickly lead to more severe disease.
According to the NHS, the first signs to look out for are a high temperature, a runny or blocked nose, sneezing, a cough, and red, watery, sore eyes.
These symptoms may then also be accompanied by small white spots inside of the cheeks and on the back of the lips, a rash that first appears on the face before spreading to the rest of the body and spots that have raised and joined together to form blotches.
Complications of measles can include pneumonia, meningitis, blindness, seizures, miscarriage or stillbirth.
The NHS recommends speaking to your GP if you or your child haven’t yet had the MMR vaccines to protect against measles, mumps and rubella.
What to do if you think you or your child has measles
If you think your or your child has measles or is at risk of measles following close contact with someone who has the virus, it’s important that you immediately call your GP or 11.
Following this, the NHS recommends:
rest and drink plenty fluids, such as water, to avoid dehydration
take paracetamol or ibuprofen to relieve a high temperature – do not give aspirin to children under 16 years
use cotton wool soaked in warm water to gently remove any crusts from your or your child’s eyes
Stay off work or school until the virus has cleared up and don’t come into contact with babies or anyone at risk.