WHO sends horror measles ‘epidemic’ warning as 1 in 10 UK kids unprotected from disease

Measles: UNICEF warns Coronavirus could bring resurgence

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Even though measles vaccines are readily available for over five decades, the rates of vaccination against the highly infectious disease have plummeted. Now, at least one in 10 children under the age of five in the UK are believed to not be protected against the illness. Measles cases have soared by 80 percent in the past year, as vaccination campaigns were disrupted due to Covid.

The NHS provides two doses of the MMR vaccine, which protects against measles, mumps and rubella, giving children a dose at the age of one and again at three.

In a statement, the WHO and children’s body Unicef warned that the rise of the “canary in a coalmine” illness could suggest that more outbreaks of disease are on their way.

According to data from UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) published earlier this year, vaccination levels in children have dropped to their lowest levels in a decade.

The data published in February showed that coverage of the first dose of the MMR vaccine in two-year-olds has dropped below 90 percent.

Meanwhile, only 85.5 percent of five-year-olds in England have received both doses of the jab

Dr David Nabarro, the WHO’s special envoy for Covid-19, warned that globally, there are around 73 million people who could get the MMR vaccine, but haven’t had it.

Speaking to Sky News, he said:: “And that’s meant that this year, in the first few months, there have been 17,000 cases of measles globally, whereas, in the first two months of the previous years, it’s usually been lower – 10,000 or less.

“So yes, we’ve got a global measles epidemic, and that worries us because measles can be a very dangerous disease.

“We’ve just got to get the vaccinations working again and that’s part of getting health services working again as Covid settles into a more regular position in our lives.”

Christopher Gregory, the senior health adviser in Unicef’s immunisation section, warned that since measles was the “most contagious vaccine-preventable disease”, it often served as a warning sign for more diseases to come.

He said: “Measles is what we call the tracer, or the canary in the coalmine, that really shows us where those weaknesses in the immunisation system are.

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“We’re particularly worried about those countries that are most fragile, where the healthcare systems are already really struggling, where they’re still trying to deal with the impacts of Covid on top of these outbreaks.”

He noted that yellow fever could be the next major outbreak, with cases rising in West Africa.

The UK has also seen an alarming rise in hepatitis cases among children, with the UKHSA confirming 145 new cases.

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