As measles cases continue to rise across the country, the NHS is urging parents and carers in West Yorkshire to make sure their children are vaccinated against measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR).

The recent rise in cases, including in Yorkshire, has prompted the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) to declare a national incident.

This is because measles, along with mumps and rubella, is a highly infectious illness: one child with measles can infect up to nine other unvaccinated children, making it one of the most infectious diseases in the world.

These are also potentially very serious diseases: complications from measles, mumps and rubella can be potentially life changing including blindness, deafness and swelling of the brain (encephalitis). One in five children with measles will need to be admitted to hospital.

Dr James Thomas, Medical Director at NHS West Yorkshire Integrated Care Board said: “There is a real risk of a measles outbreak in West Yorkshire – vaccination rates have fallen over recent years, and with 27 confirmed cases last year we had the highest number of cases outside of London and the West Midlands.

“Measles is more than just a rash; it is a serious, potentially life-changing condition that spreads very easily. It can lead to severe illness and even death in children. For pregnant women, it can cause premature birth, low birth weight and still births.

“But measles, as well as mumps and rubella, is preventable, so if you or your child have not had your MMR jab, it is really important that you come forward.”

Two doses of the safe and effective MMR vaccine are needed for maximum life-long protection, with the first dose given around the child’s first birthday, and the second dose given at around three years and four months old.

However, anyone can catch up at any age on any missed doses and it’s never too late to protect yourself. Getting the MMR vaccine is free and usually takes just a few minutes.

If you’re not sure if you or your children have had the MMR vaccine, please contact your GP practice.