Dr Sara Kayat joins NHS call for parents to act as measles cases rise

NHS England is calling families to ensure their children are vaccinated

Child with measles rash on tummy and drop in of MMR vaccine needle
(Image credit: Getty)

Dr Sara Kayat has joined the NHS' call for parents to act as measles cases rise.

The TV GP has warned that with the summer holidays approaching and many families expected to jet off on their vacations, thousands of unvaccinated children could be put at risk of contracting measles if they're travelling to Europe where the outbreak cases are much higher.

It comes after the UKHSA announced an increase in cases - with modelling suggesting that London could see a measles outbreak with tens of thousands of cases.  

And while most children are fully protected with both doses of the MMR jab, one in ten five-year-olds in England are not – and in some areas of London up to two in five children are unprotected. This is below the World Health Organisation’s recommended level of 95%. 

TV doctor, GP and mum, Dr Sara Kayat, stressed, "With the summer holidays fast approaching, it’s important we keep our little ones fully protected from Measles, which is on the rise. Speaking as both a doctor and a mum, the MMR vaccine is the best possible way to keep our children safe and healthy. So, I am urging parents and guardians to check your child’s red book to make sure your child is fully vaccinated against this disease."

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Dr Sarah added, "Two doses of the MMR vaccine is all it takes to give the best protection against the illness and by preventing the spread of measles we can ensure everyone can safely enjoy their holidays both at home and abroad.”  

Parents and guardians are urged to check their child’s red book to make sure their  child is up to date with their vaccinations and make an appointment with their GP practice to catch them up with any missed dosses of MMR.

Adults are also reminded to contact their GP practice to check their own vaccination record and make an appointment to catch up on any missed doses, too.  

She recently spoke about it on This Morning and one mum was grateful to have listened to the advice. She wrote, "Saw your clip on TM on Mon and as a result got my son checked out as he had woken up with nasty rash on face and neck Thankfully not measles but best to get checked. He had his first MMR during that first week of lockdown 2020 Thanks for the advice."

How contagious is measles?

Measles is highly infectious respiratory infection and can be passed on up to four days before a rash appears. The WHO declared measles as one of the world's most contagious diseases. Just one person with measles can infect nine out of ten people who have not had the MMR vaccination. Measles is more than just a rash, in some cases it can lead to meningitis and sepsis, causing real risk to life. One in five cases of measles cases requires a hospital visit and since the measles vaccine was introduced in the 1960s, over 20 million cases have been avoided, saving over 4,500 lives.   

Does measles still exist today?

Yes, measles still exists today - measles cases are rising. There is no specific treatment for measles and the MMR vaccination gives the best possible protection against illness. Between 1st January and 30th June there have been 128 cases of measles, compared to 54 cases in the whole of 2022, with 66 per cent of the cases detected in London although cases have been seen in all regions.

Does measles go away on its own?

There is no medical treatment for measles, the virus simply has to go away on its own. But measles is completely preventable with the MMR vaccine. Two doses provide over 99% protection. Young children are offered one MMR vaccine after their first birthday and the second before they start school, usually at around three years and four months. This is because two doses of the MMR vaccine provides the best possible protection against measles, as well as mumps and rubella. The 95% MMR vaccination uptake, the target set by the WHO, is enough to create herd immunity, protecting those who are not able to be vaccinated, such as babies under one years old, and stop measles circulating.

Selina Maycock
Senior Family Writer

Selina is a Senior Family Writer for GoodtoKnow and has more than 16 years years of experience. She specialises in royal family news, including the latest activities of Prince George, Charlotte, Louis, Archie and Lilibet. She also covers the latest government, health and charity advice for families. Selina graduated from the University of Sheffield in 2006 with a degree in Journalism, and gained her NCTJ and NCE qualifications. During her career, she’s also written for Woman, Woman's Own, Woman&Home, and Woman's Weekly as well as Heat magazine, Bang Showbiz - and the Scunthorpe Telegraph. When she's not covering family news, you can find her exploring new countryside walking routes, catching up with friends over good food, or making memories (including award-winning scarecrows!)