- Author, Katie Thompson
- Role, bbc news
Measles cases continue to rise at “disproportionately high rates” in the West Midlands, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has warned.
Figures released on Thursday show that 329 of 465 (71%) cases in England from October to February were in the region.
He said a sharp rise in the last six weeks was mainly due to cases in Birmingham.
A GP in the Sparkbrook area of the city said most of the cases doctors were seeing were in unvaccinated people.
Dr Frances Dutton, of Sparkbrook Children’s Zone, said many of the children and families in the area were experiencing poverty and deprivation.
“This contributes to having a broader vision of children’s health,” he said.
“There are many vulnerabilities.
“If you haven’t received the measles vaccine, which is the MMR vaccine, which is completely safe and effective, then you are more likely to get measles.”
Dr Dutton, who also works at Birmingham Children’s Hospital, said it was harder for families living in financial hardship or poor housing, or where there was a language barrier, to access vaccination appointments.
She said: “We have been holding sessions with schools and organizations to hear their experiences of the MMR vaccine and their concerns to try to address them directly.”
Immunization teams have been in the area putting up posters on Stratford Road in a bid to raise awareness about the MMR vaccine.
Elsewhere, there have been 62 cases in London and 32 in Yorkshire and the Humber in the same period. The remaining cases were reported in other regions of England.
Of the 465 cases in England, the majority – 66% (306) – occurred in children under 10 years of age, while 25% (115) occurred in young people and adults over 15 years of age.
Dr Vanessa Saliba, consultant epidemiologist at UKHSA, said: “The measles outbreak in the West Midlands remains a concern.
“Uptake of the MMR vaccine has been declining over the last decade and one in 10 children starting school in England are not protected. “Measles is highly infectious and there is a real risk of it spreading to other areas.
“Vaccination is the best way to protect yourself and your children. I strongly urge parents to take up the offer as soon as possible and protect your children now.”