A HEALTH BOSS has revealed that Cumbria has one of the ‘highest rates’ of vaccination against measles amid a recent outbreak in England.

Members of the health and wellbeing board were told that the uptake of the MMR vaccine in Cumbria is ‘significantly higher’ than it is nationally after an outbreak in England saw confirmed cases increase from 17 in October to 240 in January alone.

The director of public health for Westmorland and Furnes Council, Katrina Stephens, said the uptake of the vaccine nationally is the lowest it’s been for ten years.

Ms Stephens said 83.8 per cent of five-year-olds in England have had two doses of the MMR vaccine in what she described as ‘extremely concerning’ figures.

In Cumbria 95 per cent of five-year-olds have had two doses of the MMR vaccine and 97 per cent have had one dose.

Ms Stephens said: “The key message at the moment is we are in good position but the key to make sure we keep using every opportunity to get vaccine uptake as high as possible.”

“Our uptake being at 95 per cent level should safeguard against widespread community transmission and larger outbreaks. It doesn’t mean we won’t see any cases at all, but it does give us some protection.”

“Nationally and locally work is taking place to ensure that GPs are checking their practices, looking at vaccination statuses and calling in those who don’t yet have a full set of MMR vaccinations particularly focussing on children and young people”, Ms Stephens added.

Since October 1 there has been 465 confirmed cases of measles in England with a disproportionately high rate in the West Midlands according to the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA).

Dr Vanessa Saliba, UKHSA Consultant Epidemiologist, said: “The measles outbreak in the West Midlands continues to be a concern. MMR vaccine uptake has been falling over the last decade with 1 out of 10 children starting school in England not protected. Measles is highly infectious and there is a real risk it will spread to other areas.

“Parents should be aware that measles is a nasty illness for most children and sadly for some can be very serious and life changing, but it is completely preventable.

“Vaccination is the best way to protect yourself and your children. I strongly urge parents to take up the offer as soon as possible and protect their child now.”