The UK has declared a ‘national incident’ in response to the measles outbreak.


The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has officially declared a national incident due to a significant increase in measles cases across the country.

In a statement, Jenny Harries, the chief executive of UKHSA, emphasized the need for “immediate action” to enhance the uptake of the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine, particularly in regions where vaccination rates are low.

Harries stressed the importance of a sustained effort to safeguard individuals and prevent widespread measles outbreaks. Measles is highly contagious, manifesting with symptoms such as rash, high fever, and ear infections. The disease can also lead to severe illness, hospitalization, and, in rare cases, death. Those most vulnerable include babies, young children, pregnant women, and individuals with weakened immune systems.

As of January 18, there have been 216 confirmed cases and 103 probable cases of measles in the West Midlands since October 1, 2023. The majority of cases, around 80%, have been reported in Birmingham, with approximately 10% in Coventry, predominantly affecting children under the age of 10.

Given the alarmingly low vaccine uptake in certain communities, there is a substantial risk of the virus spreading to other towns and cities, warned Harries. Recent statistics from the UKHSA indicate that MMR vaccine uptake is at its lowest level in over a decade, with only 84.5% of children receiving two doses by the age of five in the 2022-23 period.

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