The British government announces urgent action plan to halt measles after the World Health Organization (WHO) has stripped the United Kingdom of its measles-free status.
The disease can be prevented with two doses of Mumps, Measles and Rubella vaccine (MMR), but immunization has been reduced in the island country.
In the first quarter of 2019, 231 cases of measles were reported. Some of them are infected abroad, but the number of children who receive both vaccines is decreasing. In England, for example, they receive 87 percent, which is below the target of 95 percent. The first dose is recommended at one year of age, the second dose before school starts. However, it is estimated that every seventh five-year-old in England is not adequately protected. Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have higher rates but are lagging behind in these areas.
Experts say the data goes down on one hand because people underestimate the risk of measles and, on the other, anti-vaccine messages can contribute.
As part of the package, GPs are being asked to raise awareness of the importance of booster vaccination and the importance of both doses in those who may have missed a single dose. They also urge social media to take action against misleading anti-vaccine messages. Plans include organizing a conference to look for a more effective way to promote information with pharmaceutical companies and other companies. The government will also try to dispel misleading claims about the dangers of the vaccine on the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) website.
Measles are re-emerging in several countries around the world, including France, Germany and Italy. Globally, the number of cases increased almost threefold in the first seven months of the year compared to the same period last year, according to the WHO, which has reported 364,808 cases so far in 2019.