• 21Aug

    Misinformation must be tackled as UK loses measles-free status

    The UK has lost its World Health Organisation measles-free status three years after the virus was eliminated in the country.

    Measles elimination status means the virus is no longer circulating permanently in a country.

    The UK achieved measles-free status in 2016 after three years of limited spread due to high vaccination rates.

    However, in 2018 there was a marked increase in the number of confirmed measles cases, with 991 confirmed cases in England and Wales.

    In the first quarter of 2019, there were 231 confirmed cases of measles in the UK.

    Earlier this week prime minister Boris Johnson outlined a number of measures designed to improve vaccination rates.

    Crucially, those measures include addressing misinformation about the MMR vaccine.

    Plans outlined by Mr Johnson include:

    • Addressing parents’ concerns about vaccines by updating the advice on NHS.uk specifically to address misleading information about the dangers of vaccines
    • Giving people NHS-approved, evidence-based and trusted advice on vaccines including through a new website
    • Calling a summit of social media companies to discuss how they can play their part in promoting accurate information about vaccination

    The plans also include strengthening the role of local immunisation coordinators. This includes supporting areas with low uptake and tailoring specific local interventions to under-vaccinated communities.