Over half a million children in the UK are not vaccinated against Measles

Fear and scepticism about vaccines are thought to be contributing factors.

Ian Snug
25 April 2019

The number of deaths caused by measles has increased by nearly 300%.

Over half a million children in the UK missed out on the first dose of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine between 2010 and 2017, a report from UNICEF has warned.


An increase in the number of unvaccinated children is said to be the cause of measles outbreaks hitting several countries around the world

In the first three months of 2019, more than 110,000 measles cases were reported worldwide – up by nearly 300% from the same period last year. An estimated 110,000 people worldwide, most of them children, died from measles in 2017.

The fear or scepticism about vaccines is thought to be a key contributing factor to the decrease in uptake in high-income counties.

Earlier this month, the head of Public Health England called on nurses to continue to “speak confidently” about the importance of vaccinations as they remain one of the most trusted sources of vaccine information.


‘A growing public health time bomb’.

“The ground for the global measles outbreaks we are witnessing today was laid years ago,” said Henrietta Fore, UNICEF Executive Director. “The measles virus will always find unvaccinated children. If we are serious about averting the spread of this dangerous but preventable disease, we need to vaccinate every child, in rich and poor countries alike.”

Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of NHS England’, has urged parents to get themselves and their children vaccinated with the MMR vaccine, which protects against measles, mumps and rubella.

“Getting yourself and your children vaccinated against killer diseases is essential to staying healthy, and vaccine rejection is a serious and growing public health time bomb,” he said. 

“With measles cases almost quadrupling in England in just one year, it is grossly irresponsible for anybody to spread scare stories about vaccines, and social media firms should have a zero-tolerance approach towards this dangerous content.”


The MMR vaccination is provided for free to all children on the NHS as part of the routine immunisation programme.

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