Figures published by Public Health England (PHE) reveal that Hackney has the highest level of measles in London. This comes as a national catch-up programme is launched to encourage MMR vaccinations as cases of measles continue to rise across the country.
The PHE statistics claim that there have been twenty-eight cases of measles in Hackney from December to March this year. According to Jose Figueora, Deputy Director of Public Health for Hackney, the outbreaks have mainly affected a nursery and a school.
Measles is a highly infectious disease that causes the sufferer to develop cold like symptoms and a red rash. There is no specific treatment; instead people are encouraged to take preventive measures by getting children vaccinated with an MMR injection.
The MMR jab faced a lot of criticism in the 1990s, as research wrongly linked it with autism. The link has been discredited, but the negative publicity meant many chose to not get their children vaccinated in the late 90s and early 2000’s. Experts believe this is responsible for the resurgence of the infection since 2007.
Dr Sohail Bhatti, Director of Public Health for Hackney, said: “The cases of measles in Hackney have been mostly isolated in one area of the borough and have affected large families with a number of susceptible children, who have contracted the virus from their siblings. Hackney is working with nurseries, schools and parents along with GPs, Homerton University Hospital and community leaders to help spread the message about the importance of immunisation as well as promoting clinic timetables and raising awareness of the symptoms associated with the measles.
“Measles is a highly infectious disease and anyone who has not had two doses of the MMR vaccine is at risk. GP surgeries, health visiting/school nursing teams and children’s centres can all provide additional information and advice. You can also look on www.nhs.uk/vaccinations.”