HEALTH: Unvaccinated children to face isolation for 21 days during measles surge

Warning: These measures apply only in England at present

Parents of unvaccinated children in two London boroughs have received the warning as back to school cases rise

By Lucy Ashton

Children who have not been vaccinated against measles may have to enter isolation for 21 days if a classmate becomes infected.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) predict the capital alone could see 160,000 cases occur as measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccination rates are at the lowest in a decade.

Both Harringey and Barnet Council wrote to parents to tell them any unvaccinated child who comes into close contact with a measles case could be asked to self-isolate for up to 21 days.

This week statistics from NHS England show that across the country more than 102,000 children aged four and five starting in reception are not protected against catching measles, mumps and rubella.

32,000 children in London alone aren’t vaccinated, reveal NHS England, and just three-quarters of children in the capital have received the two required doses of the MMR jab, which protects against measles. This is 10 per cent lower than the national average.

Measles is highly infectious and if left unvaccinated nine out of ten children in a classroom will catch the disease if just one child is infectious.

One in five cases of the illness requires a hospital visit and the infection can lead to complications in one in 15, such as meningitis and sepsis, add NHS England.

Dr Oge Ilozue, GP and Senior Clinical Advisor, NHS London Vaccination Programme said: “Measles can start with cold like symptoms such as a runny nose, sneezing and a cough with a rash not showing until they have been infectious for up to four days.

“In a classroom it may not be easy to spot that they have the measles infection at first and before they have a rash they could have infected nine out of ten of their unvaccinated classmates.”

The MMR vaccine is given at one year old and again at around three years and four months in time for the start of school year.

Two doses are enough to give lifelong protection from becoming seriously unwell with mumps, measles and rubella. Anyone who has missed any of the vaccinations can catch up at any time.

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