Three years after the measles virus was eliminated from the UK, the country has lost its measles-free status with the World Health Organization (WHO) after 231 confirmed cases were recorded in the first quarter of 2019.
With just 87 per cent of children in the UK receiving a second dose of the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is calling on health leaders to renew their efforts to meet the 95 per cent target. NHS England is writing to GPs urging them to promote catch up vaccination for 10-11-year-olds and five-25-year-olds who have not had two doses of the vaccine.
The government also plans to strengthen the role of local immunisation coordinators and tailor local interventions for specific under-vaccinated communities.
The Prime Minister is also calling a summit of social media companies to discuss how they can play their part in promoting accurate information about vaccination and to address, what he calls, “superstitious mumbo jumbo” from the media regarding the safety of the MMR vaccine.
The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) has welcomed the move. Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, RCGP Chair, said: "We welcome that the government is addressing the falling take-up of childhood vaccinations seriously and are particularly pleased to see that they are involving social media companies in their strategy given the deeply concerning and misleading school of thought, especially prevalent online and across social media, that casts doubt over the safety and effectiveness of vaccines."
"It is not just the responsibility of GPs and other healthcare professionals to combat anti-vaxxer propaganda, everyone has a part to play: health, public health and education bodies; but we also need technology companies to take responsibility and tackle negativity and confusion around vaccination information,” she said.