Town Hall gets ‘measles’ in bid to boost #MMR

Published: 27 April 2016

Wandsworth Town Hall has been covered with images of measles spots as public health experts warn that London is in the grip an outbreak of the disease.

This week Public Health England has warned the capital has seen more than 60 cases of measles in the last two months, in a period when there would usually be fewer than ten. Of these, 48 were in people aged 15 and over. In Wandsworth there have been three confirmed cases since February.

They are urging people to get vaccinated, stressing that parents and young adults as well as children should get the MMR jab.

In Wandsworth images of measles spots were projected onto the 1930s town hall building on Tuesday night to mark the World Health Organisation (WHO) European Immunisation Week. Banners promoting the jab will be displayed all week.

The aim of the stunt was to communicate the important message that measles can be a serious threat to health. As well as spots, the hashtag #MMR was projected, because the only way to protect yourself and your children against the disease is to get the MMR vaccination. Yvonne Doyle, Public Health England London regional director, came along to support the campaign and spoke about the importance of being innoculated (see film below)

Measles is a highly infectious viral illness that can be very unpleasant and sometimes lead to serious complications. It is spread through direct contact with an infected person or through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. 

It is now less common in the UK because of the effective MMR vaccination programme. Vaccine uptake rates in England are currently among the highest in Europe, but an increase is still needed to reach the WHO’s 95 per cent target for MMR vaccination in two year olds. The current rate in London is just over 87 per cent.

Those who are unvaccinated, or not fully vaccinated, remain susceptible to the disease. The MMR vaccination also provides protection against two other common highly infectious diseases: mumps and rubella.

The council works with local GPs to ensure people in Wandsworth receive recommended jabs. The council’s public health team is keen to ensure enough people are vaccinated to prevent an outbreak.  

If enough people are immunised they help to protect vulnerable members of their communities by reducing the spread of the disease. If rates fall, so-called ‘herd immunity’ can break down leading to an increase in the number of new cases.

People at risk are those that have not had two doses of the MMR vaccine, or haven’t had the infection before – particularly babies, those with weakened immune systems or who are pregnant.

“Projecting spots onto the town hall may appear to be a light-hearted stunt, but behind it there is a very serious message,” said Wandsworth’s director of public health Houda Al-Sharifi.  

“Make sure you and your children are fully vaccinated. In some cases people who contract measles go on to develop pneumonia and encephalitis (inflammation of the brain).

“It’s never too late to get vaccination. Just talk to your GP.”


Notes to Editors

Measles – symptoms and treatment:

The initial symptoms of measles develop around 10 days after a person is infected. These can include:

  • cold-like symptoms, such as a runny nose, sneezing, and a cough
  • sore, red eyes that may be sensitive to light
  • a high temperature (fever), which may reach around 40oC (104F)

A few days later, a red-brown blotchy rash will appear. This usually starts on the head or upper neck, before spreading outwards to the rest of the body. Symptoms usually resolve in about seven to ten days.

A person is infectious to others from four days before to five days after the rash has started. If measles is suspected or diagnosed then the person who is unwell should remain in isolation until five days after the rash has started.

Anyone experiencing these symptoms seek medical attention, but be sure to phone ahead before you visit your GP surgery so arrangements can be made to prevent others from being infected.

For more information visit NHS Choices

The council's website contains all current and past press releases dating back to February 2000

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