Are you and your children vaccinated against Measles and Whooping Cough?

5 June 2024

Pregnant women and young children need to be protected against measles and Whooping Cough, a serious illness, which is spreading in the UK.

If you, your baby or your young child aren’t protected from Measles and Whooping Cough, they may get seriously ill and need to go to hospital. 

Measles and Whooping Cough are preventable illnesses, if you’re vaccinated. Anyone can get measles.

You can protect yourself and your child from Measles and Whooping cough for free. Just speak to a doctor by contacting NHS 111 

Measles and Whooping cough spreads easily at gatherings and pregnant women and children should be protected before going to gatherings and festivals. 

Protecting yourself also stops bringing Measles and Whooping Cough back to your community and family.

What is measles?

Measles is a very infectious disease that can cause serious problems for our lungs and brains, such as blindness, fits, and inflamed lungs.

Anyone can get measles, and while most people get better, it is usually younger children, pregnant women and people who have a weaker immune system who are most at risk. They may struggle to fight off the infection and might need to go hospital.

Early signs of measles include red, sore, watery eyes, sometimes a rash inside the mouth, and a high temperature, runny or blocked nose, sneezing or a cough.  Measles can later lead to a blotchy rash all over the body.

How do you get measles?

Measles is easily spread both indoors and outdoors, through touch, coughing and sneezing and touching surfaces someone has coughed or sneezed on.

If you are not vaccinated, you are at risk and can easily pass on the infection to others.

What to do if your child becomes ill? 

Call your doctor on the phone or NHS 111, if you spot measles symptoms for yourself or your child, if visiting a GP, let reception know your symptoms on arrival, or call ahead. 

Stay away from other people to stop measles spreading from 4 days before the rash appears to 4 days after. It’s ok to mix with other people 4 days after the rash has ended and you, or your child, does not have a high temperature and is feeling better. 

What is Whooping Cough?

Whooping Cough, is an illness of the lungs and airways. 

Young babies are most likely to become unwell from whooping cough. 

You can protect babies, children, and pregnant women from getting whooping cough by being vaccinated.

How do you get whooping cough and what happens if you get it?

Whooping Cough is spread very easily through coughing and sneezing. 

The symptoms often start with a runny nose and sore throat. After about a week, you or your child can get coughing fits. 

The cough sometimes has a characteristic ‘whoop’ sound. 

Young babies with Whooping Cough can become very unwell. 

If your baby is showing signs of whooping cough and is struggling to breathe, you should take them to hospital immediately, or call 999.

What to do if you or your child becomes ill? 

If you or your child become ill and you think it could be whooping cough, talk to a doctor on the phone, or call NHS 111. If it is whooping cough, you will be offered antibiotics. 

It you take these antibiotics, you will stop being infectious after about 48 hours. If you don't take antibiotics you can be infectious for 21 days.