Are you fully protected against measles? Gloucestershire County Council is urging residents to check they are to help protect the most vulnerable.
In September last year an outbreak of measles saw 49 cases of the disease in the area. Although many people will only suffer mild symptoms, out of the residents affected by measles, six were hospitalised, including some to intensive care.
In the worst cases, measles can cause pneumonia, brain damage, long term disability or even death. This shows just how important it is for residents to make sure that they are immunised.
In Gloucestershire, less than 90 per cent of residents are fully vaccinated against measles, mumps and rubella.
This means that the county does not have enough ‘herd immunity’; the resistance to the spread of an infectious disease within a population when a high enough proportion are immune. The more people who are vaccinated, the better protection there is for the community.
To make sure that residents are safe from the deadly disease the county needs to hit a 95 per cent vaccination rate. The vaccine is completely safe for most people but some of the most vulnerable people can’t be vaccinated.
In a bid to increase the amount of people immunised, letters are being sent out by GPs to some of the county’s under-protected young adults (aged 16 to 19 year olds), informing them if they haven’t had two doses of MMR vaccine.
In some instances they will have missed the vaccination as a child and now, as an adult, are vulnerable to disease in the event of an outbreak.
Cllr Tim Harman, cabinet member for public health at Gloucestershire County Council, said: “Measles can kill so it is really important that people get immunised.
“I had measles when I was five years old and suffered with very painful symptoms which have affected my eyesight into adulthood. It was very traumatic for me and my parents and I’d urge residents to make sure they’re immunised.
“By joining the herd you can help to protect yourself and others from the effects of this dangerous disease.”
Steve Hams, Chief Nurse at Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Keeping this issue at the forefront of the public’s attention is critically important. By taking a very simple precautionary measure and getting a jab you can quite literally save your life. Getting a jab is very easy and straight forward.”
Dr Sheena Yerburgh, Clinical Lead for Infection Control at NHS Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “Measles is a highly contagious and potentially extremely dangerous disease. It is really important to protect our population, in particular children and young adults. Ensuring widespread vaccination will give Gloucestershire ‘herd immunity’, reducing the risk of an outbreak.
“The vaccination is quick, safe and very effective. I urge parents to ensure that their children have received the two doses of the vaccine, and young people to check their vaccination history with their GP surgery and make an appointment with their Practice Nurse if they are not covered.”