Measles London: Vaccine rates by borough amid outbreak warning

Here we list London boroughs and their uptake of the MMR vaccine, from Greenwich up to Bromley, amid a UK government warning.
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The government has warned that "urgent action" is needed to increase vaccination rates to stop the spread of measles outbreaks - with London recording the lowest uptake across the country.

The warning from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) came after it declared a 'national incident' due to an outbreak in the West Midlands, where there had been 216 confirmed cases and 103 probable cases as of last Thursday (January 18).

Measles is an infection that can lead to serious conditions including pneumonia and meningitis. While the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) jab for young children is effective in immunising children against the disease, a drop-off in uptake has been reported.

Among children aged five at the end of 2022/23, only 74% had received their two doses in London, compared to 84.5% across England.

The borough with the lowest proportion of children aged five with their two jabs was Greenwich with 56.3%, followed by Camden (63.6%) and Ealing (64.8).

Local councils support NHS vaccination programmes and a spokesperson for Greenwich Council said a new plan to improve vaccination rates has been introduced since last March. They said it is "critical" parents ensure their children are fully vaccinated.

Professor Dame Jenny Harries, chief executive of the UKHSA, said: "Colleagues across the West Midlands have worked tirelessly to try to control the outbreak [in the West Midlands], but with vaccine uptake in some communities so low, there is now a very real risk of seeing the virus spread in other towns and cities.

"Children who get measles can be very poorly and some will suffer life changing complications. The best way for parents to protect their children from measles is the MMR vaccine. Two doses of the MMR vaccine give lifelong protection and it’s never too late to catch up."

She said "immediate action" is needed to boost MMR uptake across communities where it is low.

"We know from the pandemic that the communities themselves, and those providing services within them, will have the knowledge to best support local families to understand the risks of measles, to learn more about the vaccines that can protect them and to enable innovative vaccine delivery approaches," she said. "We need a long-term concerted effort to protect individuals and to prevent large measles outbreaks."

Between January and November 2023, 104 cases of measles were recorded in London.

In December, NHS England launched a new vaccination strategy, with a focus on vaccine confidence and accessibility. Over 99% of those who have two doses of the MMR vaccine are protected against measles and rubella. Although mumps protection is slightly lower, cases in vaccinated people are much less severe.

A dose bottle of measles, mumps and rubella virus vaccine. (Photo Illustration by George Frey/Getty Images)A dose bottle of measles, mumps and rubella virus vaccine. (Photo Illustration by George Frey/Getty Images)
A dose bottle of measles, mumps and rubella virus vaccine. (Photo Illustration by George Frey/Getty Images)

London MMR vaccine uptake by borough

Here is the MMR vaccine uptake for each London borough for children reaching their fifth birthday. The figures show the percentages that have received their first dose and both doses for the year from April 1 2022 to March 31 2023.

  • Bromley (92.4, 87.0)
  • Enfield (89.7, 83.4)
  • Bexley (91.1, 82.6)
  • Richmond upon Thames (88.6, 82.5)
  • Croydon (89.1, 81.0)
  • Havering (90.5, 81.0)
  • Lambeth (87.6, 80.4)
  • Harrow (90.5, 79.5)
  • Kingston upon Thames (86.5, 79.1)
  • Haringey (88.9, 78.9)
  • Hillingdon (88.7, 77.9)
  • Southwark (90.6, 77.7)
  • Brent (87.3, 77.6)
  • Kensington and Chelsea (88.0 76.4
  • Waltham Forest (84.9, 75.2)
  • Redbridge (89.2, 74.1)
  • Wandsworth (87.2, 74.0)
  • Sutton (87.2, 73.8)
  • Lewisham (85.8, 71.7)
  • Tower Hamlets (84.8, 70.8)
  • Barnet (86.3, 70.6)
  • Hackney (85.3, 70.3)
  • City of Westminster (84.4, 70.3)
  • Newham (84.6, 69.5)
  • Barking and Dagenham (85.6, 69.5)
  • Merton (84.2, 68.0)
  • Islington (82.7, 67.2)
  • Hounslow (84.8, 66.3)
  • Hammersmith and Fulham (81.2, 65.9)
  • Ealing (82.6, 64.8)
  • Camden (82.7, 63.6)
  • Greenwich (81.2, 56.3)

Greenwich and Camden councils

A Greenwich spokesperson said: "The Royal Borough of Greenwich is committed to tackling health inequalities, championing vaccinations and debunking myths. The data referred to is for 2022/23 and since then a local plan has been set up to improve MMR vaccination rates.

"The NHS lead on this programme, however, we regularly run campaigns to highlight the importance of the MMR vaccine and proactively work with partners including children’s centres, schools and community groups to increase awareness.

"It is critical that parents and carers ensure that their children are fully vaccinated against measles and other infectious diseases and we are doing everything we can to make sure everyone has the support they need."

Kirsten Watters, Camden’s director of public health, said: “Increasing vaccination coverage is a key priority for the council and we are working in partnership with NHS partners to support vaccine take up and increase knowledge and confidence in all immunisation programmes. Camden was the first local authority to offer a mobile MMR clinic on our Camden health bus in areas with the lowest MMR coverage. We also regularly hold information sessions in early years settings and schools and have our own range of communications resources to meet the needs of our diverse communities.

“The rising number of measles cases across London is extremely concerning and I urge parents to check that their child has had two doses of the MMR vaccine, this is particularly important if they are at nursery, school, college or university.”

Measles symptoms

Measles can lead to cold-like symptoms including a high temperature, a runny or blocked nose, sneezing a cough and red, sore or watery eyes.

Small white spots may appear inside the cheeks and on the back of the lips a few days later. They normally last a few days.

A rash usually appears a few days after the cold-like symptoms.

What to do if your child may have measles

If your child may have measles, or if you have been in close contact with someone with measels and you are pregnant or have a weakened immune system, call 111.

Also call the helpline if you may have been in close contact with someone with measles and you are not vaccinated and have never had measles before.