Get the measles jabs to prevent outbreak

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The number of people vaccinated against measles in Herts is higher than the national average, say health chiefs.

But experts looking to reassure the public in the light of a serious epidemic in Wales say it is crucial that the parents of any unprotected children ensure their little ones are vaccinated against the potentially deadly disease.

A national catch-up programme to increase MMR vaccinations in children and teenagers was announced on Thursday as the number of measles cases across the country continues to rise.

There were 12 confirmed cases in Herts during the last 12 months up to the end of March.

Spokesman for Herts County Council’s public health department Simon Hoggett said: “The number of Hertfordshire children vaccinated is higher that the national average so the risk in the county of exposure to the disease is quite low unless you are travelling to areas where there is an outbreak.

“But vaccination is really important to reduce vulnerability if there is an outbreak.”

All children should have received two doses of the measles, mumps, rubella vaccine by the age of five.

It is believed that the rise in measles cases can be mostly attributed to the proportion of unprotected 10 to 16-year -olds, who missed out on the jabs when concerns around the now discredited link between autism and the vaccine were widespread.

Deputy director of public health Dr Raymond Jankowski said: “Research which showed a link between MMR and autism has now been completely discredited and I would urge everyone to ensure that they and their children are vaccinated. Measles is a very infectious disease and can lead to pneumonia and encephalitis. In extremely rare cases it can even be fatal.”

Symptoms of measles include cold-like symptoms, red eyes that are sensitive to light, high temperature, greyish-white spots in the mouth and throat, followed a few days later by a red-brown spotty rash on the head and neck.

People should contact their GP if they have symptoms or have not been vaccinated.