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Measles Outbreak Sweeps Across UK, Public Health England Warns

It’s the comeback tour nobody wanted.

We’re talking about measles.

Take Action: Vaccines Should Be Accessible and Affordable For All

Public Health England has warned that the disease is spreading across Britain. It’s reached five regions, with more than 120 cases now confirmed.

Although risk is still low, parents are being urged to vaccinate their children with the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) jab.

Recently enjoyed a winter break in Romania, Germany, or Italy? If you haven’t already been vaccinated, then you could be at risk. A recent outbreak in Europe has been partially blamed for the increase in cases, although local under-vaccinated communities have also played a part.

“This serves as an important reminder for parents to take up the offer of MMR vaccination for their children at 1 year of age and as a pre-school booster at 3 years and 4 months of age,” said Dr Mary Ramsay, Public Health England’s head of immunisation. “Children and young adults who missed out on their MMR vaccine in the past or are unsure if they had two doses should contact their GP practice to catch-up.”

But, didn’t we get rid of measles already?

Sort of. The fresh outbreak comes just months after the World Health Organisation announced that Britain had “eliminated” measles for the first time.

Read More: The UK Has Eliminated Measles for the First Time

However, elimination doesn’t actually mean… er, elimination. It’s different to eradication, which can only refer to a disease that’s been wiped out globally, like smallpox. Elimination means that there was a lack of indigenous cases recorded in the UK for three years, which doesn’t count the relatively small number of cases brought in from the outside.

Global Citizen reported in September 2017 that England had reached its target of to get 95% of children dosed with the first MMR vaccine before their first birthday. That’s a really good thing, because it means that a dramatic outbreak is deemed unlikely. Indeed, Public Health England have said that the present situation appears to be stabilising.

It just goes to show the power of vaccinations.

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Where is all this happening?

West Yorkshire: 34

Cheshire: 29

Liverpool: 29

West Midlands: 32

Surrey: 20

Greater Manchester: 20

(Correct as of January 9).

What even is measles?

It’s like a cold, but worse. Think man-flu, but real. According to the NHS, symptoms involve coughing, sneezing, aches, pains, tiredness, a high temperature, and spots in your mouth. It’s also extremely infectious.

While it usually clears up in around a week, it can cause some serious complications, including infections of the lungs (pneumonia), and brain (encephalitis).

If you think you or your child might have measles, contact your GP. Phone ahead.

If you haven’t been vaccinated, don’t worry — although it’s most often delivered to children in two doses, you can get the MMR jab at any age in the UK. Though if you were born before 1970 it’s likely you’re immune already. Just ask your GP for details.

Global Citizen campaigns on the Global Goals, including Goal No.3 for good health and wellbeing. Take action with us here.