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6 questions you might have about measles

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1. What is measles?
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Measles is a highly infectious viral illness – this means it can be passed from person to person very easily!

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2. What are the symptoms?
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About 10 days after becoming infected, measles causes cold-like symptoms:

  • Runny nose
  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • High temperature (fever) rising as high as 40°C
  • Sore, red eyes that may be sensitive to light

Some people also develop white-greyish spots in the mouth.  After a few days, a red-brown blotchy rash will appear.  This usually starts on the head and upper neck before spreading to the rest of the body.

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3. Can measles be prevented?
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Yes. You can significantly lower your chance of catching measles by having the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine.  You were probably given the vaccine when you were a baby, but young people are eligible to receive the vaccine up to the age of 25.

The MMR vaccine is a combined vaccine that also offers protection against mumps and rubella. Two doses of the vaccine are required to give lifelong protection.

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4. Who can tell me if I've had my injections?
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Speak to your parents/carers to find out if you received both doses of the MMR vaccine when you were younger.

If they can’t remember or are unsure, your GP surgery will be able to tell you, and will be able to arrange for you to have it if you need it. Remember, it’s not possible to be over vaccinated – so if you are still unsure, it’s best to have another dose!

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5. What if I’ve only had one dose?
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You need two doses to be protected, so it’s vital that you have the second dose.

One of the target groups is young people in Year 8 who have either missed out on having the vaccine altogether, or who have only had one dose.

These young people will be offered the vaccine in school from September 2019, at the same time as the HPV vaccine. If you’re not in Year 8 at school, you will need to talk to your GP to arrange to receive the vaccine at the GP surgery.

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6. Are German measles the same as measles?
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German measles is often confused with measles, but it’s not the same thing. German measles, also known as ‘rubella’, is a rare, but much milder condition which usually gets better within a week.

If you have both doses of the MMR vaccine, you will considerably lower your chance being affected by rubella. By having the vaccine, you’re not only protecting yourself but also other people around you. The more people who are vaccinated against an infectious diseases, the harder it is for the disease to spread.

how to get help

If you have any more questions on this area or would like to speak to somebody about this topic, have a look at the links or search for your local services in the blue box below. Alternatively you can always contact your public health nurse.

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