Urgent warning to parents as fears grow over new outbreaks of killer disease

PARENTS have been urged to vaccinate their kids against a killer disease, as fears of outbreaks grow.

Measles, which is seven times more infectious than Omicron, can have serious health implications for youngsters.

MMR jabs, which also stop mumps and rubella, give near-perfect immunity but 95 per cent of children have to be vaccinated to stop outbreaks.

UK Health Security Agency figures show only 86 per cent of five-year-olds are up to date with two doses.

But many Brits are not getting their children protected against it with a jab, as around ten million opt out.

UKHSA warned: “As international travel resumes, it is more likely that measles will be brought in from countries that have higher levels of the disease.”

Cases are currently low in the UK, with the last serious outbreak a few years ago, but infections globally are rising.

Helen Bedford, the professor of children’s health at the UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health, told the Telegraph: "Of all the vaccines, MMR is the most sensitive in terms of decline in numbers, because measles is so highly infectious.

"You can quickly get to a position where we would get outbreak problems quite quickly.”

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Brazil saw 8,448 cases last year, and is still battling outbreaks. Thousands were also hit with the virus in 2021 in Nigeria, India, Somalia and Pakistan.

This makes the threat of it being brought to the UK, a concerning prospect with children here at a lower level of protection.

The MMR – measles, mumps, rubella – vaccines have been dished out in the UK for more than 30 years.

Countless studies, and millions of people who have had their injections in those decades, have shown its safe and effective.

Health chiefs say said its stopped 4,500 deaths and 20 million cases of measles.

Last week the UK Health Security Agency warned one in 10 children starting school could catch the virus because vaccination levels are at a 10-year low.

Experts warned the super-contagious virus could break out again, with most parents not realising it can be dangerous for kids.

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Vaccines minister Maggie Throup said: “Measles is highly contagious and can be dangerous, so it is very concerning to see falling levels of uptake for the MMR vaccine. 

“It is absolutely crucial we make sure our children are fully protected against measles, mumps and rubella with both doses of the jab.”

Measles is a fast-spreading virus that is most common in children and causes fever, a cough and runny nose and a blotchy rash.

Most kids recover quickly but it can cause serious and sometimes deadly problems like pneumonia and meningitis.

England and Wales had wiped out measles by 2017 – thanks to the vaccines – but as jab rates fell it bounced back and there were 991 cases in 2018.

Dr Vanessa Saliba, epidemiologist at UKHSA said: “Even a small drop in vaccine coverage can have a big impact on population immunity levels and lead to outbreaks.

“I urge parents to check if their children are up to date with their MMR vaccines and, if not, to get them booked in as soon as they are able. It’s never too late to catch-up."

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