23 Oct 2019
Measles reminderAll travellers are advised to be up to date with measles vaccination
All travellers should ensure they are fully protected against measles, either through a known history of past infection or with a record of two doses of a measles containing vaccine.
Measles is still endemic in many countries/regions around the world, including Europe. Large outbreaks continue to be reported and summaries of measles cases and population incidence can be found here:
- European Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (ECDC) - Monthly measles and rubella report
- World Health Organization – measles and rubella surveillance data
In 2017 the United Kingdom (UK) achieved World Health Organization (WHO) measles elimination status which was based on the number of cases reported between 2014-2016 . However, measles remained a threat to the UK population . A rise in measles cases in England in 2018 was linked to importations from Europe ; based on the number of cases reported that year, WHO concluded that measles transmission had been re-established in the UK, and it could no longer be considered 'measles eliminated' .
Young people and adults aged 15 and over who missed out on the Mumps Measles Rubella (MMR) vaccine when they were young, and some under-vaccinated communities have been particularly affected .
Advice for travellers
Measles is a highly infectious viral illness that can be very unpleasant and sometimes leads to serious complications.
The MMR vaccine is available to all adults and children who are not up to date with their two doses . Anyone who is not sure if they are protected should check with their GP practice.
Before you travel make sure you are up to date with all currently recommended UK vaccines.
In the UK, MMR is usually given to infants at around 12 months of age, with a second dose given before school, to ensure best protection. In some cases, MMR can be offered to babies from six months of age (e.g. for travel to countries where measles is common, or during an outbreak situation). Ask your health professional for advice on the best option for your children before you travel.
Two doses of MMR in a lifetime are needed for a person to be considered fully protected .
Advice for health professionals
Guidance on measles vaccination is available in Immunisation against infectious disease Chapter 21. Advice on immunisation against measles is also available for those whose immunisation status is uncertain.
- Public Health England. UK measles and rubella elimination indicators. 19 August 2019. [Accessed 23 October 2019]
- Durkheim DN, Crowcroft NS, Strebel PM. Measles- the epidemiology of elimination. Vaccine 2014; 32: 6880-6883. [Accessed 23 October 2019].
- Public Health England. Measles outbreaks across England. 12 November 2018 [Accessed 23 October 2019]
- National Health Service. Who should have the MMR vaccine? 10 July 2018. [Accessed 23 October 2019]
- Public Health England. Measles. Chapter 21, Immunisation against Infectious Disease. Last updated 1 July 2013. [Accessed 23 October 2019]