08 Jul 2020

Measles reminder during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic

All travellers are advised to be up to date with measles vaccination Measles reminder during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic
  • This updates the news item of 7 May 2020

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has updated its global advisory against ‘all but essential’ travel. From the 4 July 2020, some destinations have been assessed as no longer presenting an unacceptably high risk to British nationals travelling abroad [1]. Details on the exempted countries and territories can be found on the GOV.UK website and is being kept under constant review [1].

During the COVID-19 pandemic there have been some necessary changes to clinical activities and services. However, during pandemics it is very important to maintain good immunisation coverage to avoid outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases that could increase the burden on UK health services [2] and overseas; if UK travellers become ill abroad.

UK residents who travel abroad 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 remains widespread (endemic) in many countries/regions worldwide, including Europe. Routine immunisation programmes may be affected as priorities for health services globally have been in the control and management of COVID-19. Large measles outbreaks continue to be reported and summaries of measles cases and population incidence can be found here:

Advice for travellers

Measles is a highly infectious viral illness that can be very unpleasant and sometimes leads to serious complications. Mumps Measles Rubella (MMR) vaccine is available to all adults and children who are not up to date with their two doses [3]. 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, the first 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 circumstances; such as travel to a country where measles is common or during an outbreak, MMR can be given to babies from six months of age. 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 [4].

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.

In the UK, measles is a notifiable disease. All suspected measles cases should be reported to the local Health Protection Team.


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