A health insurance company has urged employers to ensure staff and their families are protected from measles outbreaks, particularly when working abroad.

Global figures from the World Health Organization (WHO) show that measles cases rose by 300% in the first three months of 2019.

In addition, according to the United Nations agency UNICEF, more than 20 million children worldwide miss out on the measles vaccination each year and this gap in protective coverage has triggered outbreaks from high-income countries in the Americas and Europe, to low- and middle-income countries in Asia and Africa.

The figures were recently highlighted by The Health Insurance Group which has urged businesses to remind employees, especially those working abroad with their families, about the importance of ensuring immunisations are up to date

Current NHS standards are for MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccinations to be given at 13 months old, and between three and five years old — as a “booster” before school. However, recommendations differ country to country, so it’s important that staff are on top of inoculations.

Measles is a particularly dangerous virus, as it destroys the body’s ”immune memory” — leaving it susceptible to other viruses and potentially debilitating and fatal complications.

Part of the explanation for the global outbreak of measles, particularly in wealthier countries, is the anti-vaccination movement of parents who decide against vaccinating their children, for a variety of reasons which have been widely discredited, globally, by the scientific community.

However, as the decision to vaccinate children or not can be a personal one, it’s important that businesses provide employees with the facts about measles jabs — by guiding them to reputable sites such as the NHS and WHO for accurate information.

Sarah Dennis, of The Health Insurance Group said, “The outbreak of measles globally serves to highlight how viruses that are commonly believed to be ‘under control’, or assigned to history, can reappear suddenly”.

Last reviewed 5 June 2019