Measles is extremely infectious. One person with measles can infect 15 to 20 unimmunised people. 15 minutes in direct contact with someone infected with measles is sufficient to transmit virus. Measles is spread through coughing and sneezing, close personal contact or direct contact with infected nasal or throat secretions. Measles is infectious from four days before rash onset until four full days after the rash appears.

Across the country, the NHS is seeing increased cases of measles amongst unvaccinated children. UKHSA modelling, published last year, identified a risk of measles outbreaks in specific populations including teenagers, young people and unvaccinated / under vaccinated communities across the country. 

Measles is very infectious and can spread rapidly among communities, such as schools, if people have not had at least one dose of the MMR vaccine. We continue to work with partners to raise awareness that people can help protect themselves, their families and those around them by ensuring they are vaccinated with two doses of the MMR vaccine, which is free on the NHS whatever the person’s age.

What are the signs and symptoms

If you are unsure if your child has had both vaccinations, please call your GP to confirm or to book an appointment. Older children and adults who have not had two doses of MMR can also ask their GP surgery for a vaccination appointment.

The initial symptoms of measles:

  • Resemble a cold with runny nose, cough and a slight fever
  • Eyes become red and sensitive to light

As the illness progresses, children may develop:

  • A high fever
  • A raised red rash that usually begins on the face and spreads downwards to the neck, trunk, arms, legs and feet
  • Small white spots inside the cheeks and lips

For some people, measles can be very serious if it spreads to other parts of the body, such as the lungs and the brain. Problems can include pneumonia, meningitis and seizures (fits).

If you think your child may have measles:

  • Call your GP or NHS 111 – do not attend your GP practice or any other healthcare setting (e.g. A&E) unless told to do so as measles spreads very easily.
  • Avoid close contact with babies, pregnant women and anyone with a weakened immune system. These people are at increased risk of severe disease from measles.
  • Stay off nursery, school or college for at least 4 days from when the rash appears.

For more information about measles, please visit:

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