What is measles?
Measles is a highly contagious viral disease — it spreads through respiratory droplets, which means when someone with measles breathes, coughs, or sneezes, and if you breathe that in, you could catch it too. Measles commonly causes symptoms such as a high fever, cough, runny nose and a full body rash. Sometimes, measles can cause more serious conditions, and can rarely even be fatal.
What’s gone wrong?
Despite the existence of a safe, well-tested and cost-effective vaccine, recent records reveal that only 84.5% of children in the UK received their second measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) jab, marking the lowest rate since 2008. This scepticism was spearheaded by discredited claims from the '90s, followed by the digital age leading to a surge of online misinformation.This maze of misinformation has left parents worried about their child's vaccinations, and has lead to a vaccine shortfall, causing an estimated 128,000 excess deaths globally in 2021, and we continue to witness a spike in cases.
When it comes to measles, prevention is key. The World Health Organization (WHO) has a plan to eliminate measles. If 95% of us receive the jab, the virus can't find enough vulnerable people to spread to and will eventually fade away. This crucial concept, known as herd immunity, is vital for eradicating measles!
Common concerns include fears of harmful vaccine ingredients, the misconception that vaccines actually cause measles, and the belief that low measles rates render vaccination unnecessary. Contrary to these beliefs, the measles vaccine employs a safe, weakened virus, stimulating the immune system for robust protection if and when future infections occur. Rigorous testing by the MHRA, along with real-world experience with millions of doses of the vaccine administered worldwide, assuress vaccine safety and clearly demonstrates it far surpasses the protection afforded by natural immunity or holistic approaches.
Still not sure about vaccines?
We sat down with our Senior Provider Operations Manager to understand why getting her kids vaccinated was so important.
Why was it so important to you that your children got vaccinated against measles?
A few years ago now, before we had the MMR vaccine, my cousin developed a super rare measles complication called SSPE (subacute sclerosing panencephalitis). She was fine for a few years, but at age 8 passed away. If the vaccine had been around before she got sick, she might still be here. It's a tough thought to carry, but it really hits home how crucial vaccines are in avoiding these heartbreaking situations and I don’t think people realise the severity of measles sometimes.
Why do you think parents are sceptical about vaccines?
There’s so much misinformation on social media, and people often listen to their friends rather than listening to the medical experts. It’s really scary sometimes, you read the comments and wonder what’s best for your child. I think I’m lucky because I work with so many incredible clinicians that I trust, so I know I’m doing the right thing to vaccinate my children.
What would you say to someone who is unsure whether to get their child vaccinated?
I understand it might feel daunting, but getting your kids vaccinated is the responsible choice. I suggest checking out information from reliable sources, like real doctors and medical experts, and avoiding anything that doesn't have solid evidence. If diving into research feels overwhelming, you can have a chat with your GP. They can walk you through the risks and benefits, ensuring you're comfortable with your decision. Your peace of mind matters, but remember, your child's safety is the top priority, and vaccines play a crucial role in ensuring that safety.
To sum it up, measles is a serious health threat globally. Even with a safe vaccine, we're seeing fewer people getting vaccinated, leading to more cases and deaths. It's crucial to vaccinate widely for herd immunity, protecting our communities and aiming to wipe out measles. Choosing to vaccinate isn't just about yourself—it's also a group effort for community well-being. Let's join forces to fight misinformation, raise vaccine awareness, and work towards a future without the heartbreaking impact of measles.