A measles outbreak in London
By Dr Robert Arlt MD, consultant paediatrician at +richmond practice
Parents have been urged to give children and young people who have not had their MMR vaccine the jab after an outbreak (up to sixty cases of measles were reported in the capital.
Measles, mumps, and rubella (also called German measles) used to be quite common in childhood. They're much less common now because we routinely vaccinate most children against them.
Measles causes a red rash, high temperature, runny nose, and sore eyes. It can cause acute complications, such as convulsions and diarrhoea. Very rarely, it causes permanent brain damage and death.
Why does my child need the MMR vaccine?
The MMR vaccine protects children from getting measles, mumps, and rubella and from getting the complications associated with them.
Also, getting your child vaccinated may help to eventually get rid of these diseases. If enough people get vaccinated against a disease then there will no longer be a need for the vaccine.
How is the MMR vaccine given?
The MMR vaccine is given in two injections. We give the first injection when your child is between 12 and 15 months old. In the UK, we give the second injection between the ages of three and five years.
Why two injections?
Not everyone responds to the MMR vaccine the first time they have the injection. After the first dose, up to 10 in 100 children will have no protection against the diseases. But after two doses, less than 1 in 100 children will still have no protection.
Are there side effects?
Your child may get some mild side effects from the vaccine, such as a high temperature. Some children become irritable, get a skin rash or swollen glands. A small number of children have convulsions (fits). Children usually recover quickly from these effects. There's no evidence that the MMR vaccine can cause long-term harm.
Consult your doctor if:
- your child is very ill when they're due to have the vaccine; has a disease or gets a medical treatment that affects their immune system; or has had a severe allergic reaction to the antibiotic neomycin
- you have any concerns about your child's vaccination programme
What about the link with autism?
In 1998 a study raised questions about the MMR vaccine and autism. The researchers thought there might be a link between a child having the MMR vaccine and getting a problem with their bowels. This bowel problem might cause a new kind of autism. But, in the end, the researchers said that their study didn't prove any such link.
It can be hard to prove beyond any doubt that a vaccine is safe. This is because millions of children get vaccines. And some of these children later get diseases. But this doesn't mean vaccines caused the diseases.
Many other studies have looked at whether there is a link between the MMR vaccine and autism. Some have involved many thousands of children. None of them have found any evidence of a link between the MMR vaccine and autism.
For example, in Japan doctors stopped using the MMR vaccine in the early 1990s. They replaced it with single vaccines. This change hasn’t had any effect on rates of autism in Japan. This suggests that MMR isn't linked to autism.
At +richmond practice we offer the full range of childhood and travel vaccines to local and international families. Our service is child-friendly and our staff will help make your visit as stress-free as possible and turn it in to a learning experience for your child. We also vaccinate against chickenpox, Meningitis B and we do BCG vaccines and there is parking close by. For a same day appointment call 020 8940 5009 or book here.