Number 10 also announced yesterday that urgent action is going to be taken to boost vaccination uptake in the UK.
Many of the articles mentioned that the measles virus was eliminated in the UK three years ago. This seems to have come directly from the announcement published by the Department of Health and Social Care, which says the same thing.
In 2017, the WHO announced that the UK, along with a number of other countries, had eliminated measles as of 2016.
The word 'eliminated' might make it sound like there were no cases of measles that year, but that's not what it means—the way the WHO uses it has a technical meaning that's a bit different to what you might expect. At the time the WHO said “Elimination of measles or rubella can be verified once a country has sustained interruption of endemic transmission for at least 36 months.”
According to Public Health England: “WHO defines measles elimination as the absence of circulating measles, in the presence of high vaccine coverage, along with good systems to identify cases of the disease.
“In countries that have eliminated measles, measles can still occur, but these will be isolated cases that only have limited spread within the community.”
The Vaccine Knowledge Project at the University of Oxford has previously said that: “The majority of measles cases have been in people who are not vaccinated, especially young people aged 15 and over who missed out on MMR vaccination when they were younger.
“About 30% of those infected have been admitted to hospital. At the moment most UK measles cases are linked to travel in Europe.
“Measles cases have also been linked to music festivals and other large public events.”
In 2018 there were almost 1,000 cases of measles confirmed across the UK.
We can’t sugar coat how difficult this year has been for good information.
News this year has fractured communities, and caused confusion and panic for many of us. No one can control what will happen next. But you can support a debate based on fair, accurate and transparent information.
As independent, impartial fact checkers, we rely on individuals like you to ensure the most dangerously false inaccuracies can be called out and challenged.
Could you chip in to support an accurate and fair debate today?