NHS pushes vaccine amid fears of measles outbreak

Residents in south east ‘in hibernation’

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DOCTORS fear there could be an outbreak of measles in the area.

It comes after the Health Protection Agency reported more than 300 cases of measles in the UK this year – more than the total number for the whole of 2010.

Earlier this year Portsmouth saw its first case since 2005.

There have also been eight cases in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight this year so far, when there were only seven last year.

And the South East has in fact had the most cases in England outside of London this year.

Dr Paul Edmondson-Jones, the director of public health for NHS Portsmouth and Portsmouth City Council, fears it could only be a matter of time before a larger outbreak locally.

He said: ‘Measles is a very infectious disease, and most of the cases have occurred in children and young people who have not had the vaccine.

‘It can be very serious and lead to life threatening complications. In some cases children can die as a result of the complications.’

To get protection against measles children need to have both doses of the MMR vaccine – the first at 12-months-old and the second when they are three-and-a-half years old.

Matt Pickerill NHS Portsmouth’s development manager for health protection, said: ‘If for whatever reason your child has missed the vaccine at the usual time it’s still possible get it from your GP surgery.’

He added: ‘Young adults who may have missed the vaccine as infants should also check their vaccination record – particularly if they are travelling or at university.’