Vaccination is a life-long investment in children’s health and well-being.
Thanks to vaccines, most children and adults are immune to measles, rubella, mumps, diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus and polio.
That’s why healthcare professionals are celebrating World Immunisation week during the week commencing 23 April 2016.
Across Europe, 1 in 15 infants in the European Region missed their first measles-containing vaccine in 2016 and 1 in 21 did not receive all recommended doses of vaccines against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis
In the South East, screening and immunisation professionals’ from the local office of NHS England are using the week to highlight that unvaccinated children and young people are the highest risk group for contracting measles.
Before the introduction of measles vaccine in 1963 and widespread vaccination, major epidemics of measles occurred approximately every 2–3 years and caused an estimated 2.6 million deaths each year around the world.
Globally, the disease remains one of the leading causes of death among children despite the availability of a safe and effective vaccine. Approximately 89,780 people died from measles in 2016 – mostly children under the age of 5 years.
Measles is a highly contagious disease, caused by a virus which is spread by coughing and sneezing or close personal contact. The virus remains active and contagious in the air or on surfaces for up to 2 hours. It can be transmitted by an infected person from 4 days prior to the rash appearing to 4 days after.
Clare Simpson, Consultant in Public Health and NHS England local lead for screening and immunisation said: “This week we’re joining with colleagues across Europe to promote Immunisation Week – the purpose being to raise awareness of the importance of getting vaccinated. In the UK, we are fortunate that babies begin a programme of vaccination soon after birth.
“However, as they get older, for various reasons vaccinations may be missed resulting in reduced protection against some infectious diseases. We hope improved awareness of the benefits of the vaccination will help to reduce the number of children and young people not immunised according to the recommended schedule.”
Parents and carers are urged to check with their GP surgery that their family members are up to date with their vaccinations