The rise in measles outbreaks in the UK

This week, it was announced that the UK has lost its measles-free status. There were 231 confirmed cases in the first quarter of this year, suggesting a return of an illness that had, until recently, all but disappeared. 

Before vaccinations were standard in the UK, measles was common, and many died of the disease. With this recent spike in measles outbreaks, many people are concerned for the health and wellbeing of those who are not vaccinated. 

Protecting your family from measles with the MMR vaccine

If you are a parent, you may be anxious about how measles could affect your family. At our clinic, we offer vaccinations – including the MMR vaccine to prevent measles, mumps and rubella – at a schedule to suit you. Our experienced team of GPs and paediatricians  understand that to make informed choices, including what vaccinations to give to your child and when, you first need to be aware of the facts. 

Why has measles returned?

It’s mostly down to the fact that some parents are not vaccinating their children. The majority of new measles cases are people who have not been vaccinated.  In order to keep the country ‘measles-free’, medical experts say there needs to be a 95% uptake of the vaccination in young children (to create what is known as ‘herd-immunity). At present, the percentage of children vaccinated is not quite hitting this number, putting those who cannot have vaccinations (due to allergies or illness), at greater risk of getting the disease.

“It’s very worrying that we’ve lost the measles-free status in the UK,” says Dr Isabelle Benard, a GP at The Medical Chambers Kensington. 

“When you lose herd-immunity, you suddenly see illnesses that have been long-gone from a country, returning. 

“The problem is that people think that these childhood illnesses are minor illnesses, but what they don’t realise is that they used to kill thousands of children, and they still do, in countries where vaccinations are difficult to obtain.”


What is an outbreak of measles and what are the symptoms?

Measles is a highly contagious, and potentially dangerous infection. Cold-like symptoms – such as a runny nose, aches and pains or watery eyes – may develop approximately 10 days after infection. The measles rash usually appears a few days later, and for most people, the illness lasts around a week to 10 days. 

While the majority of people will recover from measles, complications that arise from the disease can be life-threatening.

In the UK, the MMR vaccine (protecting from measles, mumps and rubella), is typically given to young children in two doses.

Does my child have to have the MMR vaccine before starting school in the UK?

In some European countries it is the rule, but not in the UK. Although, Boris Johnson has said that something must be done to prevent the rise in measles cases.

Vaccinating your family

Our team of GPs and paediatricians are here to guide you, and are experienced in all vaccination schedules (these differ from country to country). They will bring you up to date with vaccinations, giving your family protection from measles and other childhood illnesses. 

If you’d like to learn more, please call 020 7244 4200 or make an appointment online.