ANTI-VACCINATION myths being shared on social media are to blame for a drop in the number of kids protected against measles, England’s top doctor has warned.
Professor Dame Sally Davies said the current uptake of the MMR vaccine, which also protects against mumps and rubella, was “not good enough” despite the vaccine being safe.
She urged parents to get their kids vaccinated and ignore “social media fake news”.
In England 87 per cent of children have received their two doses of the MMR vaccine, but the target is 95 per cent.
“A number of people, stars, believe these myths – they are wrong,” she told the BBC.
“Over these 30 years, we have vaccinated millions of children.
“It is a safe vaccination – we know that – and we’ve saved millions of lives across the world.
“People who spread these myths, when children die they will not be there to pick up the pieces or the blame.”
Her comments come on the 30th anniversary of measles, mumps and rubella vaccine being introduced to the UK.
The MMR vaccine has dramatically reduced the number of cases of measles, mumps and rubella in the UK, saving about 4,000 deaths from measles.
Last year the World Health Organisation declared the UK as “measles free” – meaning the disease is no longer native to the country but can still occur.
But Dame Sally said there have already been too many measles cases in England this year – a total of 903.
Young people who missed out on their vaccine had been the worst affected, she said.
In August measles cases in Europe reached an eight year high, particularly where vaccination rates are low.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) warned the number of cases of the highly infectious disease during 2018 have already outstripped any year since 2010.
Across Europe there were more than 41,000 measles cases recorded during the first six months of 2018, including 37 deaths.
The global health body said France, Georgia, Greece, Italy, Russia, Serbia and Ukraine have had more than 1,000 cases each so far in 2018, according to the latest figures.
The MMR jab is a combined vaccine, which protects against measles, mumps and rubella.
In order to be fully protected, it is important to have both doses of the vaccination.
Anyone who might suspect they have the infection is advised to stay at home and call their GP or NHS 111.
Anyone can get measles if they haven’t already had it, but it is more common in young children.
It starts with cold like symptoms before a rash develops a few days later.
The rash looks like small, red-brown blotches and can make a person feel very unwell.
Severe complications can occur, including miscarriage in pregnant women, brain swelling and the risk of death from pneumonia.
The virus is spread through coughing and sneezing and through close contact with infected individuals.