North West NHS leading the way in the fight against measles

Text says "Measles can make you seriously unwell, make sure your child is up to date with their MMR vaccines" with a graphic of a child receiving a vaccination
Text says "Measles can make you seriously unwell, make sure your child is up to date with their MMR vaccines" with a graphic of a child receiving a vaccination

More than 14,000 doses of the MMR vaccine were delivered to children and young people in the North West in the first three months of 2024, as part of the NHS MMR catch-up campaign.

The region is leading the rest of the country, seeing the biggest increase in those coming forward for vital protection - 14,462 doses to those aged five to 25 years across January, February and March - a more than seven times increase compared with the same period in 2023 (1,916 doses).

In response to rising cases of measles, and a fall in vaccination rates, the NHS, UKHSA, and local authorities launched the campaign, urging millions of parents and carers to book their children in for missed measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccinations to protect children and young people from becoming seriously unwell.

To take the vaccine out into communities, the North West has also been piloting MMR vaccines in community pharmacy for those who have been referred by their GP, and the Living Well Bus has been travelling around Cheshire and Merseyside offering walk-in appointments to those eligible for MMR and other routine childhood vaccinations, while school-aged immunisation service providers have been visiting primary and secondary schools offering first and second doses.

Across the North West, GPs have been pulling out all the stops to bring children and young people up-to-date with their MMR vaccines and Primary Care Networks in the region have been hosting additional clinics over at weekends, to make it more convenient than ever to get an MMR vaccine.

Tricia Spedding, Deputy Head of Public Health at NHS England – North West said:


“It’s such positive news that the North West has delivered more than 14,000 vaccines in just three months, and that so many parents and carers have taken the time to ensure their children have the very best protection against measles, mumps and rubella.

“Measles is a very serious illness and so it is vital that everyone who is still unprotected comes forward to get their two doses as soon as possible, by contacting their GP surgery.

“I would encourage families this World Immunisation Week, to check with their GP practice, or in their child’s red book (health record), to ensure all vaccinations are up to date.”

Hayley Mercer, Consultant in Health Protection at UKHSA North West, said:


“Vaccination is one of the most important things we can do to give children the very best start in life. It’s incredibly important for children to stay up to date with routine vaccinations as this remains one of our best defences against infectious diseases like measles, not just for the person being vaccinated but for their family, friends and those around them.

“It’s also important to remember that measles isn’t just an infection that can affect young children. With increasing numbers of measles cases in the North West, we have also seen adults who haven’t been vaccinated becoming seriously unwell with measles and being admitted to hospital for care.  MMR is free, get it. We also need to protect people in pregnancy who haven’t been vaccinated and babies under one year who are too small to be vaccinated. Check your vaccinations are up to date with your GP. Keep you, your family and friends safe.”

Unvaccinated six to 25-year-olds can get their MMR jabs via their GP surgery, with some areas also running pop-up vaccination clinics in libraries, university campuses, sports clubs, and other convenient places.

Catching measles can lead to life-changing issues for adults and children, such as blindness, deafness and swelling of the brain (encephalitis).

Measles can also have a serious impact on pregnant women, potentially leading to premature birth, low birth weight and stillbirth. Health chiefs are urging anyone thinking about becoming pregnant to ensure their MMR vaccination status is up to date because the vaccine can’t be given during pregnancy.

Two doses of the MMR vaccine are needed for maximum life-long protection, with the first dose given around a person’s first birthday, and the second dose given at around three years and four months.

However, anyone can catch up at any age on any missed doses and it’s never too late to protect yourself. The vaccine doses are typically given via a single injection into the muscle of the thigh or upper arm and are usually delivered with their other one-year and preschool vaccinations.