Health staff in Scotland have been urged to get vaccinated for the measles in preparation for a “likely outbreak” of the disease.
Scotland’s chief medical officer, Sir Harry Burns, sent a letter to all of Scotland’s NHS boards.
Earlier this month a number of confirmed measles cases were reported in Scotland, with small outbreaks of the disease in Fife and Ayrshire.
Sir Burns said: “We are writing to alert you to the importance of ensuring the protection of health staff and the risks to patients at a time when there is likely to be an increasing number of measles cases and local outbreaks in Scotland.”
Although he said the risk of a “sustained spread” of measles is lower than in Wales or England, “the likelihood of measles entering Scotland has increased.”
He said: “Given present levels of immunity to measles in the general population, large scale transmission in healthcare settings is unlikely but potential does exist. “
Workers' protection 'essential'
He adds that it is “particularly important” to ensure that staff working with vulnerable patients are protected. Staff should “ urgently” get at least a first dose of MMR.
Sir Burns said: “While measles continues to circulate throughout the UK, risks are much lower in Scotland than England or Wales due to our higher vaccination uptake rates.
“While large scale transmission of measles in healthcare settings is unlikely, the protection of healthcare workers is an essential part of infection control procedures, particularly for staff working with vulnerable patients.
“So our precautionary approach is to raise awareness and offer healthcare staff a further opportunity to be vaccinated against measles if needed.”
The Scottish government announced earlier this month that up to 50,000 unvaccinated children, aged ten to 17, are to be invited to have the MMR jab, following the recent rising number of measles cases in England and Wales.