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Measles cases surge in Wales, health experts issue urgent vaccination warning

MEASLES cases have doubled in Wales, with health experts sounding a warning to parents. Public Health Wales (PHW) declared an outbreak in April, and now they caution that the number of cases in the Gwent measles outbreak has surged to 17, up from nine cases reported at the end of April. These cases initially emerged in connection with a Welsh hospital but have since spread within the community.

The newly confirmed cases are individuals identified as close contacts of previous cases, rather than from further community spread, and there have been no new cases identified since May 20.

Health officials stress the importance of ensuring children are fully vaccinated with two doses of the MMR vaccine. They particularly advise families attending mass events or planning international travel over the summer months to prioritise vaccination to reduce transmission risks.

Beverley Griggs, consultant in health protection for PHW and chairwoman of the multi-agency Outbreak Control Team, acknowledged the support of parents and carers in Gwent, highlighting that extensive community spread has been averted. However, Griggs emphasised the need for everyone eligible to receive both doses of the MMR vaccine to prevent further transmission and protect vulnerable individuals.

Griggs further stressed the importance of ensuring children are fully vaccinated before attending summer mass events or travelling abroad, where measles transmission can occur more easily, especially in areas with lower vaccination rates.

Parents and carers are encouraged to verify their child’s MMR vaccine status by consulting their child’s red book or visiting their local health board website.

The MMR vaccine is highly effective and safe, with two doses providing over 95% protection against measles. The first dose is typically administered at 12 months of age, followed by the second dose after three years. However, children visiting countries with high measles incidence can receive the vaccine from six months of age, with additional doses in line with routine scheduling from 12 months.

While measles can be severe for children, it can affect individuals of any age. Adults who have not had measles or the MMR vaccine and who are in close contact with children are advised to consult their GP about vaccination.