Thousands of cases of mumps have been reported in the United Kingdom. It is mostly university students who are infected by the disease. The easily avoidable infection is making a strong comeback as more and more parents seem to have joined the "anti-vaccination" or "anti-vax" campaigns. It is not only mumps that has bounced back, but a large number of patients have also been infected by measles in recent years. The National Health Service (NHS) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) have warned parents of the repercussions of not vaccinating their children.

Since July 2019, around 7,200 cases of mumps have been reported according to Public Health England. In November and December, a large number of students from universities like Oxford, Edinburgh, Bristol, and Cambridge have been diagnosed with mumps.

Students have reported the painful symptoms of the disease which has spread like wildfire in universities.

Flu jab/measles vaccine
UK health officials link Mumps outbreak to anti-vax campaigns. REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao

The preventable disease has become a rarity due to the Measle, Mumps and Rubella vaccine (MMR). Regular uptakes of the vaccine prevented students from catching infectious diseases. However, parents of the students who are now going to universities were made fearful of the side-effects of vaccines.

In 1998, Andrew Wakefield, a gastroenterologist, claimed that vaccines caused autism in children. The concept was soon discredited but the conspiracy theory had already made parents suspicious of vaccines. In the 90s, Wakefield's book "The Lancet" linked MMR to autism. The anti-vax campaign that started in the 90s has recently gained traction with the help of fear-mongering social media posts.

Simon Stevens, of NHS England, claims that unvaccinated children are a ticking public health time bomb. Stevens also pointed out that social media websites allowed anti-vaxxers to spread misinformation and fear.

The Sun reported that due to the fall in MMS uptakes, the UK is no longer measles free. The number of measles cases in the UK has increased by 50% and in the United States, the number of measles cases has also increased substantially.

According to WHO, more than 140,000 people (mostly unvaccinated children under the age of five) lose their lives to measles each year. Thus, by getting on the anti-vax bandwagon parents are allowing their children to become the victims of preventable diseases.