Boris Johnson calls for urgent action, as the UK loses its ‘measles free’ status

The UK has lost its measle-free status just three years after the WHO (World Health Organization) declared that the country had eliminated the virus.

British PM, Boris Johnson, yesterday called for more urgent action to ensure children received the MMR vaccine to prevent the spread of the virus. In the first quarter of 2019, there were 231 confirmed measle cases in the UK, which the government said were mostly acquired abroad.

Measles can be prevented by receiving two doses of MMR vaccines. The number of children receiving the second vaccine dose has dropped to 87%, which the rates between children receiving the first and second doses lowest in London.

Boris Johnson has set a target to increase the vaccination rate to 95%, the standard target for measles elimination. The plans announced to reach this target include asking GP’s to promote catch-up vaccinations for children who may have missed both doses, urging social media sites to tackle mis-leading anti-vaccine messages and using the NHS website to address misleading claims about vaccines.

This is not just a problem centered on the UK, with the increasing global skepticism around the safety of vaccines giving rise to WHO administering the term ‘Vaccine hesitancy’ and labelling it as one of the top ten threats to global health in 2019. With data from WHO also pointing to that fact that measles is now endemic in countries such as France, Germany and Italy.
Expert blame the decrease in vaccination rates on ‘viral misinformation’ which has been spread around on social media sites likes Facebook and Twitter.

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