Measles outbreak warning as hundreds urged to go to hospital for vaccination

A measles outbreak warning has been issued after eight people have fallen ill.

Health officials are now trying to contact hundreds to offer them vaccinations.

Southend council bosses confirmed there are currently eight patients in Essex being treated for the contagious respiratory infection.

If left untreated, it can lead to serious medical complications.

Health chiefs believe around 200 people may have had contact with the patients – all of whom attended a local day service for people with learning difficulties.

The council is working with Public Health England (PHE) experts regarding the suspected measles outbreak and will offer everyone who had contact with them inoculation.

Figures from the World Health Organisation (WHO) have said measles has infected more than 230 people in the UK in the first quarter of 2019.

Anyone who may have been directly exposed to the suspected outbreak will be offered the MMR vaccination, if they are not already immunised.

Rates of protection for children in England from vaccine-preventable diseases dropped in the past year in what UK health official said was a "concerning trend".

The figures follow a warning from the WHO last month that Britain had now lost its "measles-free" status, three years after the virus was eliminated there.

Data from Public Health England (PHE) showed that coverage of all 13 routine childhood vaccinations for the under-fives was down by between 0.2 per cent and 1.0 per cent.

Coverage with the first dose of the MMR vaccine, which protects against measles mumps and rubella, was down to 90.3 per cent in England in 2019, from 91.2 per cent in 2018 – the fifth annual decrease in a row.

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