The NHS in the North West is urging parents to check that their children are up-to-date with their MMR vaccinations after a rise in cases of measles across England.
Figures from the UK Health Security Agency show that there have been 49 lab-confirmed cases of the disease between 1st January and 20th April in England, with one of those in the region.
The NHS says that children are offered the first dose of the MMR vaccine which protects against measles, mumps and rubella when they turn one-years-old and the second dose at three years and four months.
North West Statistics show that uptake of both doses of the vaccine by age five was below 90% in more than half of local authorities and less than 80% in some areas.
Dr Sam Ghebrehewet, Deputy Director of Health Protection from UKHSA North West says,
“We’re calling on parents and guardians to make sure their children are up to date with their two MMR doses.
“Measles is a very infectious virus and can spread rapidly among communities if people have not been fully immunised. While most people who catch measles will recover completely within a couple of weeks, it's important to remember measles can be a very serious illness that can leave permanent disability, and occasionally even kill.
“During the COVID-19 pandemic we saw a fall in uptake for the routine childhood vaccinations, including MMR which leaves us vulnerable to outbreaks, especially as people travel abroad for summer holidays to places where measles is more common.
“Anyone who has not had two doses of the Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccination is at risk, and children are especially vulnerable."
Health experts are stressing that Measles isn't just a disease that affects children - of the cases identified so far 27% are in people aged 15 to 34 years.
Dr Ghebrehewet adds, “But it’s important to remember that measles is not just a childhood illness and it’s never too late to have the vaccine. Measles can be more severe in young people and adults, often leading to hospital admissions.
“Adults should call their GP practice if they have not received two MMR vaccines or are unsure about their vaccination status, it’s still important to take up the free MMR vaccine now. If you have any questions about your child having the MMR vaccine, please talk to your GP, practice nurse, health visitor or school nurse. If you've not received two doses of the vaccine in the past or you're unsure, speak to your GP practice.”
The UKHSA is urging parents of young children, teenagers and adults to check that they are up to date with their MMR vaccines, particularly before they travel this summer and before attending summer festivals where measles can spread more easily.