Health agency urges parents to get children vaccinated after rise in measles cases in East Midlands

Local health organisations are warning people to make sure their vaccinations are up to date and be alert after an increase in confirmed measles cases in the region.
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Data published today by the UK Health Security Agency shows 19 cases of measles have been reported in the East Midlands between October 1 2023 and February 13, 2024.

This is an increase of eight cases on data published last week. The majority of cases are said to be in Leicester.

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The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) is working with partners in local authority public health teams and the NHS to monitor the situation, provide advice and support local communities to be aware of action they can take to protect themselves, including getting vaccinated.

Measles advice - Photo: UKHSAMeasles advice - Photo: UKHSA
Measles advice - Photo: UKHSA

Dr Vanessa MacGregor, Consultant in Communicable Disease Control at UKHSA East Midlands, said: “Measles can be a serious infection that can lead to complications especially in young children and those with weakened immune systems.

MMR vaccine coverage has been falling for the last decade with 1 out of 10 children starting school in England not protected and so there is a real risk that this outbreak could spread more widely across the East Midlands.

“Parents should be aware that measles is a nasty illness for most children and sadly, for some, can be very serious and life changing, but it is completely preventable. Vaccination is the best way to protect yourself and your children. I strongly urge parents to take up the offer as soon as possible and protect their child now.

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“The recent rise in cases is worrying, but measles is a preventable disease, and two doses of the vaccine is enough to give lifelong protection, so please take up the offer of vaccination if your child has yet to have one, or both of the vaccines.

“It is also important to be aware of what symptoms to look out for, as the measles virus is highly infectious.”

Symptoms of measles appear 7-10 days after contact with the virus and include:

- cold-like symptoms such as runny or blocked nose, sneezing and cough

- red, sore, watery eyes

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- high temperature (fever), which may reach around 40OC / 104OF

- a non-itchy, red-brown rash usually appears 3-5 days later (sometimes starts around the ears before spreading to rest of the body), spots may be raised and join to form blotchy patches – which may be harder to see on

darker skin tones

- small white spots may appear inside cheeks and the back of lips (for a few days)

More information about the symptoms can be found here: Measles - NHS (

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The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) prevents, prepares for and responds to infectious diseases, and environmental hazards working with local, national and international partners. It says measles spreads very easily among those who are unvaccinated, especially in nurseries and schools. People in certain groups, including babies, pregnant women, and people with weakened immunity, are at increased risk of complications from measles.

If you or a family member develops any symptoms of measles contact your GP by phone. Do not go to your GP, walk-in centre or any other healthcare setting without calling ahead, as measles is very infectious.

The MMR vaccine is given as part of the routine NHS schedule of childhood vaccines:

- 1st dose just after the child’s first birthday

- 2nd dose at 3 years 4 months and certainly before children start school full time

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The UKHSA says the MMR vaccine is safe and provides effective protection against three diseases – measles, mumps, and rubella. Two doses of MMR are required to produce the maximum protection.

For people who do not touch any pork products, there is a version of the MMR vaccine, Priorix, which has no pork ingredients. You can request Priorix from your GP.