Experts and medical professionals have warned that MMR vaccination rates are at the lowest level they have been in a decade.
With the latest data revealing that more than one in 10 school entry-age children in England are now at risk of measles due to not having their MMR jab – which protects against measles, mumps and rubella – the UKHSA and NHS have launched a campaign urging parents and guardians to make sure children have had their MMR vaccinations and other routine jabs before starting school.
Children can receive their first dose of the MMR vaccine on the NHS at the age of one, and the second dose when they are three years and four months old.
According to the most recent figures, between July and September last year, just 88.6% of children in England had received their first MMR dose by the age of two, while just 85.5% had received both doses by the age of five – the lowest in a decade.
The World Health Organisation says that 95% of children need to be vaccinated to prevent the rise of measles.
Measles is highly infectious and can cause pneumonia, inflammation of the brain – known as encephalitis – damage to the immune system which leaves children more susceptible to other infections, and in some rare cases, can also cause subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE), which can lead to destruction of the central nervous system, loss of motor control, epilepsy, and even death.
Research commissioned by the Department of Health and Social Care and the UKHSA found that 48% of parents and guardians of children aged five and under did not know that measles can lead to serious complications.
Only 38% of those surveyed knew measles could be fatal.
When a high percentage of the population is protected through vaccination, it becomes harder for the measles to pass between people – but since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a concerning drop in the number of children receiving these vaccines on time.
Experts say this may be due to some parents having realised doctors were still offering appointments, or did not want to burden the NHS.
Dr Vanessa Saliba – Consultant Epidemiologist at the UKHSA – said: “The MMR vaccine offers the best protection from measles, mumps and rubella which is why we’re calling on parents and carers to make sure their children are up to date with their two doses.
“Even a small drop in vaccine coverage can have a big impact on population immunity levels and lead to outbreaks.”
“It is incredibly important that all parents and guardians ensure their child is up to date with their routine vaccinations, including MMR, as these vaccines give children crucial protection against serious and potentially deadly illnesses and stop outbreaks in the community,” added Dr Nikki Kanani – GP and Medical Director for Primary Care at NHS England, said:
“If your child has missed a vaccination, please contact your GP practice to book an appointment as soon as you can to make sure they have maximum protection against disease.”
In just seconds, the entire ceiling is ablaze, with terrified customers scrambling for the exit.
Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue service released the video in a bid to raise awareness and prevent any similar incidents at hospitality venues in the city-region.
The shocking incident occurred in a shisha bar in Rusholme, in May this year.
Fortunately, no one was seriously injured, but several people were taken to hospital with suspected burns.
In both this instance and in the One Eight Six incident, the cause of the blaze was determined as being ‘indoor fireworks igniting decorations, which then burned rapidly allowing the fire to spread’.
GMFRS is now working with licensing teams from the 10 councils in Greater Manchester to offer free information and advice sessions to owners and managers of cafes, bars, pubs and restaurants in advance of the Halloween, World Cup and the Christmas party season.
Leon Parkes, GMFRS’s director of prevention and protection, said: “Hospitality venues have a responsibility to keep their customers and staff safe and at Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service we want to help businesses to understand their legal responsibilities and take action to protect their property, staff and customers from fire.
“We have seen a couple of instances in the past year in Manchester where fires have broken out in venues caused by indoor fireworks setting light to decorations.
“While fortunately fires don’t occur very often, the impact of a fire can be devastating and many businesses don’t recover.
“Pubs, bars and other venues will be very, very busy during October, November and December. It’s important that staff prepare by getting trained in what they need to do and that they don’t inadvertently create a fire risk.
“We know that the last two years have been really difficult for hospitality businesses and hopefully the forthcoming World Cup and Christmas period will be a boost for them. We gave out fire safety advice in May last year as Covid-19 restrictions eased and we are now working with our partners to help hospitality businesses be safe and stay safe.”
‘Significant risk’ of UK gas shortages this winter, regulator warns
Energy regulator Ofgem has warned that the UK faces a ‘significant risk’ of gas shortages this winter.
According to reports in The Times, the regulator has unveiled concerns that the country could face blackouts over the coming months thanks to an undersupply of gas to Europe caused by Russia’s war with Ukraine.
Warning that a “gas supply emergency” could be looming ahead, the energy regulator has said that some gas-fired power plants could see their supplies cut off, which in turn would stop generators from producing electricity.
The alert comes just days before an expected update from the National Grid on the likelihood of countrywide power cuts this winter.
Responsing to arequest from SSE, which owns several gas power stations, Ofgem outlined what is set to be a huge issue of concern given that the UK relies on large gas plants to produce the biggest share of its electricity supply.
The regulator also pointed to rules that could see power plants penalised as a result of shortages, warning of a worst-case scenario that would see the “potential insolvency of gas-fired generators” caused by rules that require plants to pay huge charges if they fail to deliver on promised quotas.
Adding that the issue must be addressed to prevent a “significant impact on the safety and security of the electricity and/or gas systems”, the regulator echoed concerns now widespread in Europe as its comments followed a similar statement made by the International Energy Agency (IEA) this morning.
Europeans are already being told they must lower their thermostats and boilers in preparation in case gas supplies are cut off, with Paris-based agency IEA warning today that the EU must focus on getting underground gas reserve levels to 90% of capacity in case of a complete Russian supply shut-off.
Preparation are already being made in Europe with the German government having approved a set of energy-saving measures for the winter to limit use in public buildings. In France, meanwhile, companies have already been warned they may face energy rationing this winter.
Whilst the UK government is yet to announce any energey saving measures, Ofgem has said that it expect s“this winter to be more challenging than last year” and that it is taking “reasonable regulatory steps to mitigate and reduce the risks”.