The mass mailing of letters warning parents that children could be asked to self-isolate for three weeks due to contact with a classmate with measles is believed to be unprecedented.
Figures from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) show there were 128 cases of measles in the first half of this year, compared to 54 in the whole of last half, of which 66 per cent were detected in London .
Only 75 percent of children in the capital have received both MMR vaccines by age five, compared to a figure of 85 percent nationwide. The World Health Organization recommends 95 percent absorption to provide herd immunity and prevent outbreaks.
Barnet Council, in north London, wrote to parents warning that the capital could see tens of thousands of measles cases if vaccination rates do not improve, leading to a risk of hospitalization and, in rare cases, death.
The letter, sent at the start of the school holidays, urged them to vaccinate their children and said: “Any child identified as a close contact of a measles case without satisfactory vaccination status may be asked to isolate for up to 21 days. . “Vaccinated children do not need to be excluded from school or daycare.”
The latest quarterly figures published show that only 72.1 per cent of five-year-olds in the borough have received both MMR vaccines.
A similar letter from neighboring Haringey Council, sent last week, warned of an increase in measles circulation and said children without both MMR doses could be asked to isolate for 21 days. According to the data, the area has an absorption of 67.9 percent of both doses of the vaccine at the age of five.
Meanwhile, earlier this summer, Hertfordshire County Council sent a letter to parents saying: “Did you know that if your child is identified as a close contact to a measles case and does not have satisfactory vaccination status, Could it be Were you asked to isolate for up to 21 days?
“Children who are fully vaccinated do not need to be excluded from school or daycare. “Vaccination can help your child stay in school.”
Several councils said they had sent letters to parents at all schools in their area in line with UKHSA national guidance. But the agency said the guidance, issued by its predecessor Public Health England, suggested headteachers could consider “excluding” unvaccinated pupils exposed to measles cases, but did not go so far as to tell them to isolate themselves.