London is at risk of a measles outbreak, with modelling estimating tens of thousands of cases could occur if vaccination rates do not improve.
The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has warned that the capital has seen a sharp increase in measles cases in recent months, with 128 cases reported between January 1 and June 30 this year. This is compared to 54 cases in the whole of 2022.
The UKHSA modelling suggests that, unless the uptake of the measles vaccination (MMR) improves, London could see a measles outbreak between 40,000 and 160,000 cases.
The risk of a large measles outbreak is considered low outside London, but there is a risk of smaller outbreaks in specific populations, including teenagers, young people and under vaccinated communities.
The UKHSA is urging parents to ensure that their children are up to date with their MMR vaccinations.
The government’s assessment also emphasises the high risk of cases relating to overseas travel.
To combat this, the NHS has launched an awareness campaign encouraging people to check their vaccination status; this includes targeted outreach to at-risk communities in the capital.
This follows a similar initiative rolled out at the start of March that is promoting polio and MMR vaccination among children between the ages of one and 11 in London.
London’s chief nurse, Jane Clegg, added: “Measles can easily spread between unvaccinated people and can be serious, but it is preventable, which is why we continue to encourage Londoners to take up the vaccine – with GPs calling over 10,000 parents of unvaccinated children, and hundreds booking appointments to get vaccinated as a result.
“Cases of measles in the capital remain low but it’s really important that people check that they, and their children, are up to date with their jabs and protected against MMR.”
Image credit: iStock