We mustn't get complacent about measles, warns RCGP Chair

In response to UK Health and Security Agency data, published today, and its warning that there is risk of an outbreak of measles in London, Professor Kamila Hawthorne, Chair of the Royal College of GPs said: "The Childhood Vaccination Programme is one of the great successes of the NHS, but the MMR vaccine can only work to reduce transmission of these viruses in communities, if enough people have it. Maintaining high vaccination rates is a top priority for GPs and our teams, and as a society, we mustn't become complacent. In 2017, the UK achieved measles elimination status, but unfortunately, this has been reversed in part by a lack of vaccination take up, and we have seen more cases of measles this year so far, than in the whole of 2022.

"We cannot stress enough how dangerous measles can be. Although it's rare, the disease can be deadly and it also can result in life-changing health complications, particularly for children and the elderly. The MMR vaccine has been proven to be safe and effective at giving people lifelong protection from the disease - and if parents have any reservations about its safety, they can ask their GP, or any member of their clinical practice team.

“We need to restore momentum to the MMR programme; the UKHSA today has said there is a risk of a big outbreak in London - but there have been cases in all regions of the UK. This is really concerning, and we would urge all parents to check their children's vaccinations are up-to-date, and if they're not, to make an appointment as soon as possible.

"If you notice symptoms of measles - such as cold and flu symptoms combined with a temperature and a rash that starts behind the ears and spreads to the face and the rest of the body - either in yourself or your children, it's important to seek medical advice."

Further information

RCGP Press office: 0203 188 7659

Notes to editor

The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of more than 54,000 family doctors working to improve care for patients. We work to encourage and maintain the highest standards of general medical practice and act as the voice of GPs on education, training, research and clinical standards.