Scotland faces risk of deadly measles infections spreading from South

Health officials are warning that more than one in ten children starting school in England are at risk of measles, because they have not been vaccinated.

The above is a major story today across BBC 1 broadcasts.

The website reveals the ‘more than one in ten’ to be euphemistic. Only 85.5% have had the recommended two doses. The BBC Health website report goes on:

In 2017 the World Health Organization declared that the UK had eliminated measles – meaning that although some cases could still occur, the disease was not widely circulating and spreading.

Measles remains more common in some other countries, meaning it can return to the UK and spread in people who are unvaccinated, if given the chance.

The UK lost its elimination status after cases ticked up again in 2018, with 991 confirmed ones in England and Wales, compared with 284 in 2017.

It’s not clear where this latest data comes from. I expect no new Scottish update until September, so see this published here from then:

From Public Health Scotland in September 2021:

Uptake rates [of the MMR vaccine] remained high in Scotland; over 96% of children had received each routine immunisation by the time they were 12 months old, with the exception of rotavirus vaccine, which had 94.5% uptake. 95.0% of children had the first dose of MMR vaccine by 24 months of age. This rose to 96.8% for children who reached age five. Uptake of the second dose of MMR vaccine by five years was 93.2%, rising to 94.5% by age six years.

From the Nuffield Trust in August 2021:

Between 1994 and 1997, there was a relatively steady rate of measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine coverage for children reaching their second birthday in England, of around 91%. In 1998, a now discredited article appeared in The Lancet which linked the MMR vaccination to autism. Uptake decreased significantly, and by 2003/04 only 79.9% of children were vaccinated. The Lancet partially retracted the paper in 2004 and fully retracted it in 2010, and coverage consequently improved, reaching 92.7% in 2013/14. However, by 2019/20 MMR coverage had fallen to 90.6%.

Note that the Lancet article did not affect MMR uptake in Scotland.

From Global Health Now in December 2019:

Typically, 93% to 95% of a population must be vaccinated to achieve herd immunity and prevent an outbreak of measles. Currently, the coverage rate in the US for the vaccine against measles in children 19–35 months is 90.4%, not even within that range. In 20 states, the vaccination rate is below 90%.

Across England, measles immunisation is too low for herd immunity.

In London, the uptake in 2019/20 was only 76.9% with only the South-West and North-East reaching above 91%.

Click to access CBP-8556.pdf

Given the links and movement between related families and friends in London and in parts of Scotland, this is a cause for concern. Measles will hospitalise 1 in 4 and kill 1/2 in 1 000, around the same as Covid.

Worldwide, measles deaths climbed 50% from 2016 to 2019.

According to the Scotsman in 2019, there were 991 cases in the previous year in England and just 2 in Scotland but both had been ‘imported.’


3 thoughts on “Scotland faces risk of deadly measles infections spreading from South

  1. Bench mark and Gold Standard for vaccines is 95 % of those at risk being vaccinated and such is universal for all highly contagious and dangerous pathogens
    England indeed fast becoming
    A ” Land of Disease and Despair ”
    But so few of them actually realise this
    As the little acorn of Thatcherism was cast into fertile minds and now on the way to being a mighty oak indeed of Dickensian proportions

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Our son was allergic to eggs, very badly allergic to them to the point that I stopped buying eggs when he was about 2 yrs because I could not risk him getting his hands on them. By the time he was in his teens it started to become much less severe and he started to eat the occasional egg but even today he only eats them sparingly.

    The relevance of this to the article? The measles vaccine was made up in egg albumin which meant he could not get vaccinated. But thanks to all those who did get vaccinated, to whom I am forever grateful, he had a measure of protection which meant he did not need to be isolated/shielded from other children and was able to do the usual things such as attend Mother and Toddlers, Playgroup and nursery without catching measles.

    He did catch measles at Primary School and was quite ill but at least his immune system had had time to mature thanks to the protection he had enjoyed because of the high level of immunisation of children in Scotland.

    Just one wee example of the importance of high uptake. The low levels of uptake in England are truly shocking and of course have implications for children in Scotland via imported cases.

    Liked by 5 people

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