School’s almost out for summer! And Medway Council and NHS Medway Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) are encouraging parents to make sure their children have had the full MMR vaccination before the school holidays begin. The long summer break involves travel, days out and contact with lots of people for many families. With a high number of cases of measles reported nationally this year and last, Medway Council and NHS Medway CCG say parents should make the vaccination a priority if their child has not had two doses.

Measles is a very infectious disease and a high number of cases have already been confirmed in England in the first three months of 2013, reaching 1,123 cases by the end of May with one in five of those suffering having to be admitted to hospital. This follows a record annual high of almost 2,000 cases in 2012. Destinations popular with British holidaymakers such as France, Italy, Spain and Ireland are among the top seven countries currently reporting high numbers of measles cases.

In Medway, there were two confirmed cases of measles in the first four months of this year. Last year there were none. GPs have been contacting parents of children in Medway who are not fully vaccinated to encourage them to have their vaccinations so they are protected. Dr Alison Barnett, Director of Public Health for Medway, said; “Measles is a very unpleasant illness and can lead to serious complications. So far this year, more than 224 children in England have been admitted to hospital. It is really important that parents make sure their children have had the full MMR vaccination.

“Parents who think their child may not be fully vaccinated should contact their GP surgery to check their child’s records, and if necessary book an appointment for the vaccination. It’s never too late to get vaccinated against measles.”

Children are routinely invited in for MMR vaccination in two doses; typically the first is given at around 12 months old and the second at three years of age. The number of people receiving the vaccine was low in the group now aged 10-16 in Medway so the NHS is particularly encouraging parents with children of this age to protect their children and get them immunised if they haven’t done so already. Dr Nathan Nathan, a GP at Walderslade Village Surgery and Chair of NHS Medway CCG said: “There is no immediate cause for concern in this area but it’s wise for parents to make sure their children have had both MMR vaccinations.”

Symptoms of measles may include a fever, cough, red eyes and a blocked nose. A blotchy rash appears on the face and spreads to the rest of the body over several days. People are usually infectious from the day before their first symptom shows to four or five days after the first appearance of the rash. Any parent who suspects their child has measles should not send them to school or nursery and should contact their GP. For more information on measles, please visit

Nationally, Public Health England, NHS England and the Department of Health are running a catch-up programme to prevent measles outbreaks by vaccinating as many unvaccinated and partially vaccinated 10-16 year olds as possible in time for the next school year. The vaccinations are available from GPs.