Measles outbreak in the spotlight at Wandsworth Town Hall

By Joe Richardson
March 6 2020, 11.00

Wandsworth Town Hall was lit up with spots on last week in a bid to raise awareness of the borough’s measles outbreak.

Wandsworth has seen more than 100 new cases of measles since the end of September last year.

Councillor Melanie Hampton said: “I want to encourage mums, dads, carers to make sure that they get their children vaccinated because this is a real problem.

“People think it doesn’t really matter, nobody hears the terrible stories of what can happen.

“Look at what happened with the coronavirus you see that something is doing something unusual. So what do you do? You do something about it,” she added.

The UK lost its measles-free status last year after dropping below the World Health Organisations 95% target, which was set out in order to achieve global ‘herd immunity’.

Wandsworth currently has measles coverage of 88.8%, down 3.3% on the national average.

Public Health England estimates suggest that in London one in four children starting primary school are not fully protected against MMR. 

Acting director of public health Shannon Katiyo said: “Part of the issue in Wandsworth is that we have got a very transient population, so we have got about a third of the population churning every year, it causes some challenges.

“I think it is staggering to think that every year 750 children in Wandsworth have not had their complete two doses, so there are a lot of children who are still unprotected,” he added.

The council has organised special catch up clinics at the following locations:

March 5, 3.45pm-6.45pm, Putney Leisure Centre, Dryburgh Road, SW15 1BL

March 10, 4.15pm-7.15pm, Tooting Leisure Centre, Greaves Place, SW17 0NE

Immunisation lead for BCGs, Jenny Robinson, said: “A lot of public health services like health visiting, school nursing those kind of services which would promote immunisations have seen cuts in budget.”

While senior immunisation nurse Emily Edmundson said: “I think it is to do with the ‘anti-vax’ movement, I think people are just not aware of how serious these diseases are.”

Contagiousness of infection is defined in terms of reproductive number, Measles is a champion in this respect and is cited between 12 and 18.

Whilst COVID-19 is estimated at 3, similar to SARS, however this number will likely shift over the next weeks and months.

For more information call Wandsworth School Age Immunisation Team: 020 3903 3374

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