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Today we’re talking about the Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) and Preschool Booster immunisations and why they’re so very important.
Across the UK and the world as well as in Berkshire itself, the number of cases of measles and mumps has increased. Even a small decline in people having the immunisation can make the diseases come back. The UK has lost its measles-free status, and mumps cases have hit their highest this decade.
We know that there’s lots of anti-vaccine stories on social media. Be very wary of reading these. They’re not likely to be based on any scientific research.
Measles, Mumps and Rubella (German measles) are common, really infectious, serious diseases. Measles alone is one of the most infectious diseases we know, and it can kill. The MMR combined vaccine is the best way of protecting your child against them. We all need two doses of the combined MMR vaccine to be fully protected against these horrible diseases, and it’s not too late to have this if you missed out as a child.
The Preschool Booster boosts the immunisations that were given to your child at two, three and four months of age so it’s nothing they haven’t had before. They have it at 3 years and 4 months. It protects against diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough and polio.
Children can safely have it at the same time as other vaccines. The great thing about this booster is it also stops children passing the germs for these diseases onto babies who are too young to have protection against them.
You may feel the risk of catching these diseases is low compared to the risk of taking your child for their immunisation during the current COVID-19 pandemic. But you need not worry – your GP surgery will do all they can to keep yourself and your child safe.
Here, in her own words, a mother shares her experience of taking her twins to have the MMR immunisation during COVID-19
"I’d like to share my experience of getting my 1 year old twins immunised during the Covid-19 pandemic.
"As a parent I wanted to do what was best for my children and as a professional I knew what the risk was for not getting them immunised. Due to the pandemic I have tried to shield them as much as I could and I also became worried about going to the GP to have them immunised. My thought process at the time was: Will I be waiting in an area filled with other patients? Will my babies come into contact with someone with Covid-19 and subsequently become ill? How will the nurse safely administer the immunisations?
"Even being a professional nurse, I am a parent first, and these worries were completely natural.
"As the day approached my worries got a little less. I did what any parent would do and did some reading on the internet but I made sure I visited some evidence based sites. I looked on NHS choices and the Oxford Vaccine Group for information and advice during this pandemic. As a professional I knew these immunisation were important; I knew that measles and meningitis is on the rise in UK and the risk of them contracting these diseases was far greater than leaving them unprotected and waiting it out, plus at the time they were still attending nursery and playing with other kids.
"I received a call from the nurse the day before we were due to attend, she stated she was calling all appointments to check if we were fit and well: no temperatures or coughs, and to inform us that there was a new system for checking in at the GP surgery. I was able to ask questions and this all put my mind at ease.
"The day of the immunisations I made sure I had everything ready: red book, paracetamol to give straight after as they were getting the Men B immunisation and are likely to develop a temperature. I also made sure the twins were in loose fitted clothing which was easy to get off and on.
"When I arrived at the GP surgery, I had to check-in at a side window as we were not allowed to wait in the reception area. Once we checked in, we waited outside making sure we were two feet apart from other patients. We were not allowed to enter the building unless accompanied by the doctor or nurse.
"The nurse came and got us and we walked straight into the room. I watched as the nurse washed her hands. She was already wearing a mask and face shield. She asked for the red book, asked me a series of questions, and I then I had to assist holding my sons and daughters legs as the injection was being given in the thigh. I had to remain calm and kept talking to them the whole time to reassure them.
"Once finished we walked straight out and just like that it was over and I was back at home.
"Thank you for reading, please continue to stay safe."
Nyesha Lowe, Student Health Visitor
When you take your child for their pre-school immunisations, it is important to make sure all their other immunisations are up to date as well.
The Vaccine Knowledge Project has some short videos from people whose lives have been affected by infectious diseases.
If you need any immunisation advice, you can call the School Aged Immunisation Advice Line on 07929 185006, 10am-2pm Monday-Friday, excluding Bank Holidays.
Visit our immunisation web pages for more information.
Nicky Smith, Health Inequalities Nurse