The United Kingdom Loses Its Measles 'Virus-Free' Status

Amy Feinstein

Great Britain is no longer "measles free" after achieving the status for three years running, and Boris Johnson, the new British Prime Minister, says it's time to take action.

The Daily Mail reports that Johnson wants to fight back against the anti-vaxxers' spread of information, and is suggesting that people boost the vaccines that they have already received. The cases of measles have quadrupled in the last 12 months, while the rate of those getting vaccinated and/or vaccinating their children has dropped.

In the first quarter of 2019, the U.K. has had 231 confirmed cases of the measles. Britain was declared "measles free" in 2016 by the World Health Organization, but that status has now been revoked.

Boris Johnson said that he is trying to make this crisis a priority, announcing that this is not just a U.K. problem.

"This is a global challenge and there's a number of reasons why people don't get themselves or their children the vaccines they need, but we need decisive action across our health service and society to make sure communities are properly immunized."

"People who spread these myths, when children die they will not be there to pick up the pieces or the blame."

Doctors stressed that measles can be prevented by receiving two vaccinations, the first at 13 months old and the second at three years and four months to five years old. If there is any doubt about whether someone has immunity to the disease, a person can either get a titer to measure immunity or get a booster vaccine.

The disease can cause death or disability and can cause life-threatening complications including pneumonia, convulsions, and encephalitis. Sources from the Great Ormond Street Hospital say that one in 15 cases of the measles can be life-threatening.