Are your children vaccinated against measles?

Release Date: 08 September 2020

Now that children have returned to school, parents are being urged to check that their children are protected against measles and are vaccinated.

Many children starting school for the first time or moving up to secondary school can be vulnerable to catching infectious diseases if they are not fully immunised.

Measles is a highly infectious and very serious disease: it starts with cold-like symptoms that develop about 10 days after becoming infected. This is followed a few days later by the measles rash. The virus can be life threatening, leading to ear and chest infections, fits, diarrhoea and damage to the brain. Figures show an increase in cases across the country including within Richmond. 

While the Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccine is normally given via two doses when a child reaches 1 years old and again at 3 years and 4 month old, often children miss out on the second dose for various reasons. Your child will not be fully immunised against measles if they have not received both doses and may be at risk.

If your child has not received the MMR vaccine or missed the second dose at an earlier age, this can be provided by your local GP free on the NHS. The Richmond School Age Immunisation Team are also able to offer the MMR vaccine: this information is included in the letter which goes out to all parents/carers in Year 8 (for the human papilloma virus vaccine) and Year 9 (for the meningitis vaccine called MenACWY, and DPT for diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus).

Cllr Piers Allen, Chair of the Adult Social Services, Health and Housing Committee and Richmond’s Health and Wellbeing Board, said:

"Measles is a serious yet preventable disease. The MMR vaccination is offered to all children but there are some who were never immunised and, as a result, are at risk of infection. 

“The previous controversy about the safety of the vaccine is now known to be false. MMR is safe and will prevent your child from measles infection and the  serious complications it can sometimes cause.  It is available from your GP surgery."

Dr Patrick Gibson, a GP based in Barnes (and GP Borough Lead for Richmond for SW London NHS) said: 

“We know that schools can be hot spots for the spread of measles.

“As a GP, I encourage all parents and carers to ensure their children are vaccinated and that vaccinations are kept up-to-date.  Communities where vaccination rates are high experience fewer outbreaks of measles, so it is important that everyone receives the vaccinations they need to protect them, their friends and families from highly infectious and serious diseases.”

How measles can be prevented?

  • Measles can be prevented by having the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine.
  • This is given in 2 doses as part of the NHS childhood vaccination programme.
  • The first dose is given when your child is around 13 months old, and a second dose is given at 3 years and 4 months.
  • Adults and older children can be vaccinated at any age if they have not been fully vaccinated before. Ask a GP about having the vaccination.

If you would like to consent for your child to being given MMR, please contact your school or request a consent form via the School Age Immunisation Team HRCH.ImmunisationTeamMailbox@nhs.net or phone them on 0203 691 1019).

For more information on Measles and MMR refer to: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/measles/

Notes for editors

If you are a journalist and would like further information about this press release, contact Elinor Firth on 020 8487 5159.

Reference: P353/20

Updated: 30 September 2020