FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 30, 2016

Measles cases drop fourth straight month in U.K.

Public Health England announced on Friday that cases of measles have dropped for the fourth consecutive month.

August showed a total of 21 confirmed cases of the measles, which is a reduction from 116 cases in June and 73 cases in July. For the year, the total number of measles cases is now at 1,386.

Because of the outbreak of measles, a nationwide MMR catch-up program was started in April by Public Health England and the Department of Health. The program was designed to prevent measles outbreaks by giving vaccinations to as many unvaccinated individuals aged 10 to 16 as possible.

"We continue to see a drop in measles cases throughout England, yet it is still too early to confirm if this is response to the catch-up program," Dr. Mary Ramsay, the head of immunization at PHE, said. "Getting vaccinated is the best way to prevent measles and protect friends and families, especially ahead of going back to school when it's most likely to spread."

When looking at the numbers from 2012, PHE estimates that almost 78,000 previously unvaccinated children have received MMR since last year. PHE also announced that approximately 2.5 percent more children in the 10 to 16 year age group have finished the two dose course.

"Plans are being developed locally to focus on initiatives to improve and sustain vaccination in school age children to approach and exceed the 95% uptake target," Ramsay said. "Some of these include nurse visits, letters to parents and ensuring MMR dosage checks become a routine part of all teenage health checks."