Measles outbreak sparks vaccine reminder in Scotland

What is measles and why is it dangerous?

Measles is a highly contagious viral infection that affects the respiratory system and can cause serious complications, such as pneumonia and encephalitis (inflammation of the brain). Measles can affect people of any age, but it is especially dangerous for young children and pregnant women. Measles can be prevented by getting two doses of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine, which is safe and effective.

How many cases of measles have been reported in Scotland?

According to Public Health Scotland (PHS), there have been two laboratory-confirmed cases of measles in Scotland since October 2023, including one case reported on Thursday. These are the first cases reported since 2019, when only one case was confirmed. In contrast, more than 30,000 cases of measles were reported across the World Health Organization (WHO) European region between January and October 2023, a 30-fold increase from 2022. The WHO has issued an urgent warning over the rise in measles cases and urged countries to increase vaccination efforts.

Why is vaccination important to stop the spread of measles?

Vaccination is the only way to protect yourself and others from measles. The MMR vaccine is offered to children between 12-13 months and 3 years 4 months of age. If the vaccine is missed at these times, it can be given at any age. Two doses of the MMR vaccine are needed to give full protection. The vaccine not only protects the individual, but also helps to create herd immunity, which means that the disease cannot spread easily among the population. This protects those who cannot be vaccinated, such as infants, people with weakened immune systems, and people who are allergic to the vaccine.

Health vaccine reminder

What is the vaccination rate in Scotland and how does it compare to other countries?

Scotland has one of the highest vaccination rates in Europe, with 93.3% of children receiving their first dose of the MMR vaccine by 24 months of age and 95.8% receiving their second dose by 5 years of age, according to PHS data. This is above the WHO target of 95% coverage for both doses. However, the vaccination rate has declined slightly in recent years, following a global trend. Some of the reasons for the decline include misinformation about the safety and effectiveness of vaccines, lack of access to health services, and complacency about the risk of diseases.

What should you do if you think you have measles or have been exposed to someone with measles?

If you have symptoms of measles, such as fever, cough, runny nose, red eyes, and a rash that spreads from the head to the rest of the body, you should contact your GP or NHS 24 as soon as possible. You should also stay at home and avoid contact with others until you are advised by a health professional. If you have been in contact with someone who has measles and you are not sure if you are fully vaccinated, you should also contact your GP or NHS 24 for advice. You may be offered the MMR vaccine or a medicine called immunoglobulin, which can prevent or reduce the severity of measles if given within 72 hours of exposure.

Where can you get more information about measles and the MMR vaccine?

You can find more information about measles and the MMR vaccine on the NHS inform website. You can also call the NHS inform helpline on 0800 22 44 88 or use the webchat service. If you have any questions or concerns about your or your child’s vaccination status, you can speak to your GP, health visitor, or school nurse.

By Ishan Crawford

Prior to the position, Ishan was senior vice president, strategy & development for Cumbernauld-media Company since April 2013. He joined the Company in 2004 and has served in several corporate developments, business development and strategic planning roles for three chief executives. During that time, he helped transform the Company from a traditional U.S. media conglomerate into a global digital subscription service, unified by the journalism and brand of Cumbernauld-media.

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