No measles outbreaks in Hertfordshire, says public health chief after reports of London cases
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DIRECTOR of public health Sarah Perman has reassured councillors that there are no outbreaks of measles in Hertfordshire.
But she has said that she is ‘concerned’ about the potential for outbreaks – given the county’s proximity to London, where she says cases are ‘high’.
Ms Perman was asked about the Hertfordshire situation on Wednesday (January 24), as councillors met to scrutinise the council’s budget proposals for 2024/25.
She told councillors there were no outbreaks in Hertfordshire – but warned that the immunisation rates were lower than they would like.
Last year (2022/23) the vaccination uptake rate in Hertfordshire was 94.5 per cent for the first dose – but just 88.8 per cent for the second.
Nationally the target immunisation rate is 95 per cent.
“Fortunately we don’t currently have a measles issue or measles outbreaks across the county,” Ms Perman told councillors.
“However, having said that, our immunisation rates are not where we would like then to be.
“We do ask parents and carers to make sure that their children have two immunisations of the MMR vaccine.
“We are not at the level we would like to be in order to provide that protection for individuals and communities.”
Following the meeting Ms Perman said she was concerned about the potential for outbreaks in the county – given the high number of cases in London.
“Children who get measles can become very ill,” she said.
“The best way for parents to protect their children from measles is the MMR vaccine.
“Two doses of the vaccine give lifelong protection and it’s never too late to catch up.
“We have been monitoring vaccination uptake rates closely in Hertfordshire, including MMR.
“The latest data (2022/23) shows that we have an uptake of 94.5 per cent for the first dose and 88.8 per cent for the second dose of MMR with a target of 95 per cent for both.
“Uptake is not as high as I would like it to be, and I am concerned about the potential for outbreaks given how close we are to London where cases are high.
“We want to ensure that every child in Hertfordshire receives both doses of their MMR and there is a lot of work taking place across the county to encourage this.”
The measles virus is contained in tiny droplets that come out of the nose and mouth.
The first symptoms can include cold-like symptoms, sore eyes, a temperature, loss of appetite ad tiredness.
And a rash – made up of small red-brown, flat or slightly raised spots that may join together into larger blotchy patches – usually appears a few days later.
The virus will usually pass within 10 days, but in some cases can lead to serious and potentially life-threatening complications.
Parents whose children may have missed one or both doses of the MMR vaccine can contact their GP to book an appointment.
And stresses Ms Perman: “It is never too late to catch up.”