Call to take up measles vaccine after another lab-confirmed case in Scotland

Public Health Scotland said there had been two such cases across the country since October 2023, including a case reported on Thursday.

Scots are being urged to take up the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine after another case of lab-confirmed measles.

Public Health Scotland said there had been two such cases across the country since October 2023, including a case reported on Thursday.

Measles can be a very serious condition, causing pneumonia and encephalitis (inflammation of the brain), and can affect people of any age if they have not been vaccinated. 

The World Health Organisation (WHO) issued a fresh warning over measles this week after an almost 45-fold rise in cases across Europe.

Measles: Rise in casesGetty Images

The rising trend is expected to continue if people do not vaccinate their children against the disease, according to the WHO.

And the head of the UK Health Security Agency warned the UK is on a “trajectory for everything getting much worse” when it comes to measles spreading.

Scotland is currently bucking the trend in terms of rising case numbers across Europe but health officials have warned against complacency.

Dr Sam Ghebrehewet, head of vaccination and immunisation at Public Health Scotland, said: “As measles cases continue to increase across other parts of the UK and Europe, we’re working with health boards to ensure that as many people as possible are fully vaccinated with the MMR vaccine.

“Two doses are needed to give full protection.” 

Anyone who hasn’t had two doses of the free MMR vaccine, as well as parents and carers of children who have missed a dose, is encouraged to visit the NHS Inform website to find out how to arrange an appointment in their local health board area.   

Uptake of MMR has declined across all UK nations in recent years and there remains a risk of infection in those who are not vaccinated or not fully vaccinated for their age. Having two doses of the MMR vaccine is the best way to be fully protected against measles. 

The MMR vaccine protects against measles with the first dose offered to children between 12-13 months, and the second dose offered at three years, four months.

A number of factors have been laid out by health experts as to why Scotland is bucking the trend on cases.

Researchers from Edinburgh University found in 2022 that an uptake in vaccination rates in Scotland could be closely linked to flexible working arrangements during the Covid-19 pandemic.

It was reported that parents had more time due to hybrid working models to take their children to vaccination appointments.

The overall increase, as investigated by Public Health Scotland and the university, found an additional 7,508 pre-school vaccinations being delivered on time during lockdown compared with the same period in 2019.

Dr Fiona McQuaid, clinical lecturer in paediatric medicine at the University of Edinburgh, said in 2022: “It’s encouraging to find that more children under five received their vaccines on time during lockdown, despite concerns that uptake might fall.

“It’s important that we continue this research to find out why this happened and how we can continue to encourage high immunisation rates to ensure children remain protected against many infectious diseases.”

Figures up to September 2023 from Public Health Scotland (PHS) showed 93.3% of children had the first dose of MMR vaccine by age two last year.

This figure rose to 95.8% for children who had reached age five.

Further information on measles and how to check you / your child is fully protected can be found on MMR against measles | NHS inform. 

What are the symptoms of measles – and who is most at risk?

Measles can affect anyone at any age, old or young.

Symptoms normally start with a high fever and rashes which can clear after around 10 days.

Long-term complications can arise, however, with diseases such as pneumonia and meningitis.

Blindness and seizures have also been named as potential side effects to the infection.

Pregnant women, babies who are too young to be vaccinated and immunocompromised people are most at risk according to health experts.

During pregnancy, the infection can lead to stillbirth, miscarriage and babies being born at a low weight.

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