New drive to stress importance of MMR vaccine for children

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A new social media video launched by the Public Health Agency (PHA) highlights the importance of getting the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine, particularly given recent measles outbreaks in continental Europe.

Dr Jenny Mack, PHA, said: “Measles is one of the most infectious viral diseases known. It spreads either through direct contact with an infected person or through the air when the patient coughs or sneezes.

“It causes high fever and rash that usually passes in about seven to ten days without causing further problems, but it can also be very serious, with some people developing complications, such as infections of the ears, lungs (pneumonia) and brain (encephalitis).

“Unfortunately, people can die from measles. The video aims to highlight the signs and symptoms and inform that the safest and most effective way to prevent measles is to ensure you are fully vaccinated with the MMR vaccine.”

Due to lower levels of MMR vaccine uptake in children and young people in some countries, measles continues to circulate. Anyone who has not received two doses of MMR vaccine is at risk. The MMR vaccine has proven to be a safe and effective way to help protect against measles, mumps and rubella.

“Thanks to the high proportion of people in Northern Ireland making the positive decision to get the MMR vaccine over the past decades, cases of these three illnesses here have fallen significantly. However, these diseases have not gone away and some countries are experiencing outbreaks of measles.

“The MMR vaccine is available free of charge as part of the routine immunisation schedule. Children should receive one dose of MMR just after their first birthday and a second dose at three years and four months of age. Anyone who is not sure if they are fully-vaccinated should check with their GP practice. If you haven’t had your kids vaccinated, contact your GP surgery to make arrangement for them to get the MMR and help to provide them and those around them with the best protection.”

The initial symptoms of measles can include: a runny or blocked nose; sneezing; sore, red eyes that may be sensitive to light; a high temperature (fever); a cough.

To view the video see www.pha.site/MMRvimeo

For more information on measles, mumps and rubella see www.pha.site/mmr.