Measles could pose a risk to the wider population with children missing their vaccinations in lockdown. A study by scientists from Public Health England and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine found during the first three weeks of lockdown immunisation dropped by around 20 percent.
Paediatricians have now claimed if the backlog of vaccinations isn’t cleared Britain could be “storing up problems”.
Measles mumps and rubella (MMR) jabs have taken a particular hit, according to Dr Shamez Ladhani, the chairman of the British Paediatric Surveillance Unit at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH).
High coverage of the vaccine is needed to be effective and to achieved herd immunity, he told The Telegraph.
He said: “The medical system has never been overwhelmed, and we have never told parents not to turn up for vaccination. Now more than ever it’s more important because, if we don’t have coverage, we could have a resurgence of diseases that are far worse than coronavirus.
“But this isn’t all about parents. GPs could clearly do better and be more reassuring.”
Dr Shamez added there were big concerns for secondary school kids who haven’t received meningitis and HPV vaccines.
He said: “These vaccines are not just protecting children, they’re protecting the population. If coverage falls then we are all in trouble.”
During coronavirus lockdown, the government urged people to stay at home and to protect the NHS.
But experts believe this led some people to think they shouldn’t be in contact with the health service at all.
Professor Sonia Saxena, Helen Bedford and Helen Skirrow said the current ‘Stay Alert’ message issued by the government doesn’t provide families with reassurance it’s safe to take their children to care facilities.
Writing in the BMJ she said: “We need clearer Government messaging that reaches all groups, and more support in the community to inform and reassure pregnant women and new parents about the importance and safety of attending primary care for vaccines during the pandemic.”
The MMR vaccine
The MMR vaccine is given as part of the routine NHS childhood vacation programme.
A person can be vaccinated at any point if they haven’t been fully vaccinated before.
The NHS adds: “If you’re not sure whether you were vaccinated in the past, having the vaccine again will not cause any harm.”
Symptoms of measles to look out for
Initial symptoms of measles can include:
- A runny or blocked nose
- Watery eyes
- Swollen eyelids
- Sore, red eyes that may be sensitive to light
- A high temperature (fever), which may reach around 40C (104F)
- Small greyish-white spots in the mouth
- Aches and pains
- A cough
- Loss of appetite
- Tiredness, irritability, and a general lack of energy
Spots in the mouth can then appear, as well as the measles rash.
The measles rash appears around two to four days after initial symptoms and looks like raised spots, which may join together to form blotchy patches.
Contact your GP as soon as possible if you suspect you or your child has measles – even if you’re not completely sure.