Boris Johnson has appeared in the news with a plea to all UK parents to take up the measles vaccination for their children, as the UK has lost the WHO ‘measles free status’.
What is the Measles Free status?
In 2017, the WHO (World Health Organisation) announced that the UK had officially eliminated measles, which is a highly infectious illness carrying risks of complications, especially in young children. This was of course marvellous news and demonstrated how effective the vaccination schedule has been. Elimination is classified as ‘the absence of circulating measles’.
However, it was announced in August 2019 that we have now lost this status due to a sharp rise in measles cases.
Why has the UK lost our WHO Measles Free Status?
Unfortunately, the perfect storm of misinformation, mistrust of professionals, and fear mongering over vaccination efficacy and safety has led to increased cases of measles and other vaccine preventable diseases. This seems to be rife on social media, with a number of platforms actually taking action and banning all anti vaccine content, with Pinterest being the most hardline against this sort of content.
Complacency is another factor; some parents have felt that there is little need to vaccinate against measles due to the elimination status, which unfortunately has left some children open to infection.
What can we do about it?
This is quite simple; vaccinate against measles if medically able to do so. This protects the most vulnerable people in our society – the immune suppressed, cancer patients, chronic illness sufferers, and tiny babies too little for their jab as the first dose is offered at the age of one. Following the schedule is the most effective way to regain our measles free status.
What are the risks of measles?
It isn’t just a ‘minor rite of passage illness’. Yes, you can gain immunity from experiencing measles, but you run the risk of some very nasty complications, at a far greater risk of any potential side effects from the vaccination. Some complications include;
- Miscarriage and stillbirth in pregnant women exposed to measles, or premature birth.
- Infections of the eyes, ears and airways.
- Misalignment of the eyes.
- Blindness and deafness.
- Death in 1 in 25,000 cases.
Fundamentally, it is important to be aware of the seriousness of measles and make an informed decision using reliable, credible information and ensuring it is coming from the right sources. Let’s work together to regain our WHO measles free status!
Love from Team BBY! Xx