MMR Vaccine Awarness

Jun 12, 2024

Among many Afghan families in the UK, low literacy rates, unfamiliarity with vaccine-preventable diseases, lack of trust in public health systems, strong religious attitudes, and media misinformation are significant factors leading to vaccine hesitancy, leading to parents’ refusal to immunise their children. The Afghanistan and Central Asian Association (ACAA) is actively working to address these issues by organising educational programmes and information campaigns specifically tailored for Afghan families in the UK.

In Afghanistan, measles is endemic, with all provinces reporting suspected cases every year. After the fall of Afghanistan in 2021, cases of measles rose dramatically, with 91% occurring among children less than 5 years of age. These children arriving on several refugee pathways to the UK are therefore less likely to be MMR vaccinated as compared to those born in the UK. Many of them are stuck in bridging hotels for years, with little access to culturally sensitive services. Language barriers also make it difficult for them to access GPs and hospitals, putting them further at risk of catching serious diseases.

For these reasons, we encourage members of vulnerable communities in the UK, including Afghan refugees, to be immunised against measles with the highly effective MMR vaccine readily available at your local practitioner. At the ACAA, we are committed to supporting Afghan refugees in overcoming barriers to vaccination by offering language support and connecting them with local healthcare providers. Immunisation is vital for Afghan refugee families who have been exposed to high rates of infectious diseases in their home country, thus preventing the further spread of measles, mumps, and rubella in their new communities. The MMR vaccine prevents measles as well as rubella and mumps, making its administration crucial from a young age. 

Measles is a serious respiratory tract infection that presents recognisable symptoms ranging from coughs and a runny nose to high fevers and rashes across the body. It is a highly contagious viral disease spread through coughing, sneezing or breathing. It is known to lead to severe complications and in the most severe cases even death. 

Rubella, also known as German measles, is a rarer illness that primarily affects the skin and lymph nodes, with milder symptoms in children. Similarly, mumps can cause painful swellings in the sides of a patient’s face, but it has become significantly less common since the introduction of the MMR vaccine. 
Two doses of the MMR vaccine are sufficient to provide long-term protection from all three highly contagious diseases. It is highly recommended by health specialists for babies and young children to be immunised with the MMR vaccine, but children and adults who have not

yet done so can still be immunised by contacting their local GP. For babies and young children, the first dose is typically administered between 0 and 1 years of age, while the second is administered at 3 years and 4 months. Provided the high susceptibility of Afghan children to these diseases due to overall lower vaccination rates, the MMR vaccine confers essential protection to children and helps prevent future outbreaks.

However, in certain cases, patients should not be administered the MMR vaccine. These cases include:

  • Pregnancy
  • Weakened immune system
  • Pre-existing health conditions
  • Currently taking medicines that suppress the immune system
  • History of a serious allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to any ingredients in the vaccine, including gelatine or neomycin

You may still be able to get the vaccine if you are ill but do not have a high temperature. This should certainly be discussed with your local GP. 

How to get your MMR jab

For babies and young children, your local GP in most cases contacts parents regarding the recommended MMR vaccination. This can be done by letter, email, phone call or text message. Ensuring Afghan refugee children and adults alike now settled in the UK receive timely MMR vaccinations can significantly reduce the risk of disease spread, especially in the case of more crowded living conditions many face upon arrival. According to the NHS website, older children who were not vaccinated at a younger age can typically get the MMR vaccine through their school. For those who need the MMR vaccine for their job, it is usually available through the employer’s occupational health service.

However, you should contact your local GP regarding your own or your child’s MMR vaccination in the following scenarios: 

  • You haven’t received a notification for your child’s MMR vaccine
  • Your child missed their MMR vaccine or you’re unsure if they’ve received both doses
  • You believe you might need the MMR vaccine
  • Your child has a fever and is scheduled for the vaccine—they may need to wait until they are well
  • You need to reschedule a vaccination appointment

Getting your MMR jab is crucial to helping to prevent the spread of measles, mumps and rubella. It is considered to be a very safe vaccine and very effective: 2 doses are 96% effective against measles, around 86% effective against mumps, and 89% effective against rubella. By getting your MMR shot, you not only protect yourself and your children but also your community. 

To find out more information on the MMR vaccine, access the link below: You can also contact ACAA for guidance on this, by emailing, calling 0208 572 0300 or visiting us at our centre in Feltham Monday to Friday between 10 AM and 6 PM.

World Health Organization (2023). Measles.

National Health Service (2017). Rubella (German Measles).

National Health Service (2017). Mumps.

National Health Service (2024). MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine.

Transformation Partners in Health and Care. London Polio and MMR vaccine.

NHS (2024). MMR (measles, mumps and rubella).

National Health Service (2024). MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine.

By Dan Dascalu, Political Communications Intern

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