Suspected measles death in UK sparks wave of vaccinations

File photo / Natalie Slade
File photo / Natalie Slade

Hundreds of children are getting vital MMR jabs at special sessions after a suspected death in a British measles epidemic.

More than 1100 vaccinations have been given on Saturday at emergency sessions at four hospitals around Swansea, in south Wales.

Measles sufferer Gareth Williams, 25, was found dead in his Swansea flat on Thursday morning.

His body is being examined as part of an investigation to establish whether his death was due to measles or something else.

Thousands of children have received the MMR jab over the last three weeks amid rising concern at the rocketing rate of measles cases.

The headline rate rose to 808 on Thursday after 43 separate new cases of measles were recorded over a two day period.

Up to 2000 more children were vaccinated in school this week as efforts were targeted in communities most at risk.

With the pool of unprotected children reducing on a daily basis, hundreds still turned out to hospital drop-in sessions on Saturday.

Thousands of children missed out on MMR jabs from the late 1990s due to unfounded fears linking the vaccination with autism.

Despite progress reaching thousands of unprotected children, the health board and Public Health Wales (PHW) still urge the unvaccinated to come forward.

They warn that the 10 to 18 age group, who missed out on the MMR jab in the past, are being hardest hit by the disease.

A Swansea nurse struck down by measles as a two-year-old, before the MMR jab was available, was left deaf as a result.

Ursula Arnold appealed to any parents still hesitating to come forward on Saturday to ensure their children are protected.

"Measles isn't nothing. I'm deaf because of measles and some people have died because of it,'' she warned.

"Please get your children vaccinated so they don't go through what I and others have gone through.''

As a health worker for the past 30 years, she is now a clinical nurse educator and emergency nurse practitioner at Morriston Hospital.

"When I had measles I was quite ill, but not so bad I had to go into hospital. The main problem came afterwards when it became clear I had hearing problems as a direct result of having measles.''

- AAP

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