The mass sending of letters warning parents that children could be asked to self-isolate for three weeks due to contact with a classmate with measles is considered unprecedented.
Figures from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) show there were 128 cases of measles in the first half of this year, compared to 54 for the whole of the last half year, of which 66 per cent were detected in London.
Only 75 percent of children in the capital have received both MMR vaccines before the age of five, compared to a figure of 85 percent nationwide. The World Health Organization recommends an absorption rate of 95 percent to ensure herd immunity and prevent outbreaks.
North London’s Barnet Council has written to parents warning that the capital could see tens of thousands of measles cases without an improvement in vaccination rates, leading to the risk of hospitalization and – in rare cases – of deceased.
The letter, sent at the start of the school holidays, urged them to vaccinate their children and said: “Any child identified as a close contact of a measles case without satisfactory vaccination status may be asked to self-isolate for up to 21 days. . Vaccinated children do not need to be excluded from school or daycare.
The latest quarterly figures released show that only 72.1 per cent of five-year-olds in the borough have received both MMR vaccines.
A similar letter from neighboring Haringey council, sent last week, warned of an increase in measles circulation and said children without both doses of MMR could be asked to self-isolate for 21 days. The region has a 67.9 percent uptake rate for both vaccine doses at age five, the data shows.
Meanwhile, earlier this summer, Hertfordshire County Council sent a letter to parents which said: “Did you know that if your child is identified as a close contact with a case of measles and they do not If your vaccination status is not satisfactory, you may be asked to self-isolate for up to 21 days?
“Fully vaccinated children do not need to be excluded from school or daycare. Vaccination can help your child stay in school.
Several councils said they had sent letters to parents at all schools in their area, based on UKHSA national guidelines. But the agency said the guidance, published by its predecessor Public Health England, suggested headteachers could consider “excluding” unvaccinated pupils exposed to measles cases, but did not go as far as tell them to self-isolate.