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Measles

Close up of two red blotches either side of the word measles.The number of people catching measles is rising in Greater Manchester.

Measles is a very infectious disease – just a cough or sneeze can spread the virus to other people.

It spreads easily and quickly among those who are not vaccinated, especially in nurseries and schools.

Measles can also be very dangerous. Some people get very sick from measles and can develop pneumonia and meningitis. One in five people with measles will go to hospital and in very rare cases people can die from the disease.

People in certain at-risk groups including babies and young children, pregnant women, and people with weakened immunity, are at increased risk of complications from measles.

If you think you or your child may have measles, stay at home and phone your GP or NHS 111 for advice.

Stay away from GP surgeries, A&E departments and other health care venues.


Signs and symptoms

Measles is an infection that spreads very easily and can cause serious problems in some people. Having the MMR vaccine is the best way to prevent it.

Symptoms of measles appear 7-10 days after contact with the virus and include:

  • cold-like symptoms such as runny or blocked nose, sneezing and cough
  • sore, red watery eyes
  • high temperature (fever), which may reach around 40OC / 104OF
  • a non-itchy, red-brown rash usually appears 3-5 days later (it sometimes starts around the ears before spreading to rest of the body) spots may be raised and join to form blotchy patches – which may be harder to see on darker skin tones
  • small white spots may appear inside cheeks and the back of lips (for a few days)

Measles rash

If you have symptoms of measles, stay at home and phone your GP or NHS 111 for advice.

Stay away from GP surgeries, A&E departments and other healthcare venues.

People with measles should stay off nursery, school or work for at least four days from when the rash first appears.

It’s never too late to be vaccinated.

You need two doses of the MMR vaccine to be fully protected against measles, mumps and rubella.

The NHS website has lots more helpful information about how to spot measles, what symptoms you should look out for, and what to do if you think you or someone you know has caught it.

Visit nhs.uk for information about measles Visit nhs.uk for information about measles

Vaccination

There’s no specific medical treatment for measles, so it’s important to get the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine.

The MMR vaccination is a safe way to protect yourself and your children. You will also be protected against mumps and rubella, which can also be very serious.

Measles is not just a childhood disease and can be serious at any age. If caught during pregnancy it can cause stillbirth, miscarriage and low birth weight.

Anyone can catch up at any age on any missed doses. It’s never too late to protect yourself.

To get the best protection you need to have two doses of MMR vaccine. Those who haven’t had both doses will be more at risk.

Children under one year old are most at risk if family members and social contacts are not immunised.

Starting nursery and school increases the risk of children being exposed to infectious diseases so it is important to protect your child.

Parents who are unsure if their child is up to date with all of their routine immunisations should check their child’s Red Book (personal child health record), check the NHS app, or contact their GP practice. If children have not had their vaccinations then their GP can arrange a vaccination, free of charge.

Adults who are unsure of their own vaccination status can speak to their GP who will arrange for a catch up immunisation if necessary –  this is also free of charge.

If you are immunocompromised, please seek advice before you have the vaccinations. Your local GP or specialist will advise you on the what to do.

Anyone who is unable to touch pork products can request a non-porcine version (Priorix) of the vaccination from their GP.


Frequently asked questions

While the MMR vaccine gives protection to children over 12 months against measles, mumps and rubella, the immune response to the vaccine in babies under 12 months is not so strong and is unreliable.

We only offer the vaccine to under ones when there is a high and imminent risk, such as during a nursery outbreak or when the child is travelling to a high risk country. But they would still need a further two doses to ensure they are fully protected.

The best way to protect the very young, who are more vulnerable, is by ensuring other children and members in the household are fully protected with two doses of MMR – hugely reducing the risk of them passing the virus onto the young child.

Your GP surgery should be able to check whether you’ve had both doses of the MMR vaccine.

You may also be able to access your vaccination record online through GP online services or the NHS app.

If your vaccination records are not available, or do not exist, it will not harm you to have the MMR vaccine again.

As a precaution, the MMR vaccine is not recommended for pregnant women.

You should also avoid becoming pregnant for one month after having the MMR vaccine.

It’s best to let your GP or midwife know if you had the MMR vaccine while you were pregnant.

Evidence suggests there will be no harm to your baby, but it’s better to let them know.

The MMR vaccine is not recommended for people with a severely weakened immune system. For example, people receiving chemotherapy.

If you have a medical condition, or are taking medicine that may affect your immune system, check with your healthcare provider if it’s safe for you to have the MMR vaccine.

Yes it does, but anyone who is unable to consume pork products can request a non-porcine version (Priorix) of the vaccination from their GP.

The evidence is clear: there is no link between the MMR vaccine and autism with many studies including WHO, and those published in The Lancet, reporting on this.


NHS catch up campaign

The NHS has launched a campaign to invite people who are not fully protected against measles to catch up on their MMR vaccinations.

  • Parents/carers of one to 16 year olds in Greater Manchester are being contacted by text message, email and letters.
  • Young adults aged 17 to 26 across Greater Manchester are also being contacted by text message, email, letters and in the NHS App.

You do not need to wait for the NHS to contact you if you think you or your child is unvaccinated. Please get in touch with your GP practice.


Need information in different formats and languages?

Members of the d/Deaf community can watch our measles video.

We have also produced an easy read leaflet and information on measles from the UK Health Security Agency is available to download in many different languages below.

MMR vaccine

The Measles, Mumps and Rubella vaccine helps protect children and adults against all 3 illnesses.  Find out more about the illnesses and the vaccine on the link below.

Find out more about the MMR Find out more about the MMR

Pre-school vaccines

The MMR vaccine is just one of the vaccines that young children should have before they start school to help protect them from serious childhood illnesses.

Find out more about the pre-school vaccines Find out more about the pre-school vaccines

Information for professionals

Download our information sheets.

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