The UK nearly achieved this in the 1990s but was set badly off course by the MMR scandal, which saw vaccination rates plunge.
The UK has eliminated measles for the first time, global health leaders have said.
Elimination of measles or rubella can be verified once a country has sustained “interruption of endemic transmission” for at least 36 months, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
Health officials said rates have now reached the recommended 95 per cent coverage level in five-year-olds.
The European Regional Verification Commission said the UK has now achieved elimination status as of 2016 for measles.
Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunisation at Public Health England, said: “We are delighted that the WHO has confirmed that the UK achieved measles elimination in 2016 and that rubella elimination continues to be sustained.
“In addition, national vaccine coverage of the first MMR dose in 5 year olds has hit the WHO 95% target.
“This is a huge achievement and a testament to all the hard work by our health professionals in the NHS to ensure that all children and adults are fully protected with two doses of the MMR vaccine.
“We need to ensure that this is sustained going forward by maintaining and improving coverage of the MMR vaccine in children and by catching up older children and young adults who missed out.”
Suggestions of a link between the MMR vaccine and autism caused a steep drop in the number of children being immunised in the 1990s. But the controversial study by Dr Andrew Wakefield that made the possible link has since been widely discredited.
The vaccination rate in the UK has gone up
At the time, measles had been virtually eliminated in the UK but the bad publicity meant vaccination rates subsequently fell to less than 85 per cent in 2005.
Just a few years ago there was a large increase in outbreaks of measles in England. In 2012, there were nearly 2,000 cases, the highest number since 1994. Nearly one in five of those cases required hospital admission, and a small number led to complications like chest infection or meningitis.
As a result, Public Health England, the Department of Health and NHS England launched a catch-up campaign was launched in April 2013 to offer vaccination to children who had not been immnised during the MMR scare.
Measles is a highly infectious viral illness with a higher risk of serious complications for pregnant women, young children and those who are immuno-suppressed.
It commonly causes a fever, runny nose, cough, red eyes, sore throat and a distinctive rash. Symptoms also include a high temperature, small greyish-white spots in the mouth and a loss of appetite.
The measles rash – made up of small red-brown spots that can join together in blotchy patches – appears around two to four days after the first symptoms.
The virus responsible for the infection is usually cleared from the body within 14 days. But in rare cases it spreads to the brain, where it can lie dormant for years – sometimes decades.
Despite the availability of the vaccination, worldwide measles is one of the leading causes of death among young children. There were 134,000 deaths globally in 2015, the latest year for which figures are available, a drop of 79 per cent since 2000, when an estimated 651,000 died.
In 2016, about 85 per cent of children worldwide received one dose of measlesvaccine by their first birthday, up from 73 per cent in 2000.
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