You may be aware from media coverage that these measles outbreaks are continuing and that 72 people died from measles in Europe last year.

Fortunately in Scotland, unlike England, we have generally high vaccination coverage and have had very few measles cases. We want to keep it that way.

Measles is the most infectious of our infectious diseases. In an unimmunised population, one person with measles will spread it, on average, to another 15. Only 15 minutes in the same room or a face to face conversation is enough to infect someone else. Furthermore, a person with measles is infectious for a total of 10 days. This includes 5 days before the rash appears and the person realises they are ill, and is when it can so easily spread.

The introduction of measles into a school after the summer holidays could severely incapacitate a school. Not just due to individual students being off but due to quarantining of close contacts for up to 21 days.

Two doses of MMR vaccine are 99% effective in preventing measles. NHS Lothian is writing to parents (at their home address) of all secondary school pupils who, according to our data, have not had MMR. We are inviting those pupils to clinics in June and early July. We would obviously be grateful for your support of this initiative. I would advise parents to make appointments in good time before travelling on holiday.

Dr Lorna Willocks
Consultant in Public Health Medicine/Immunisation Co-ordinator

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