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Parents and young people in Cumbria are being urged to protect their children and themselves against measles by ensuring they are fully vaccinated with both doses of the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine as cases of the disease have been confirmed in the county.
Though the number of parents protecting their children from the disease in Cumbria is high, with 95 per cent taking their babies for the immunisation, around 6,000 children and young people aged between five and 16 in Cumbria are still at risk.
Doctors are also advising adults and teenagers moving to Cumbria to check they’re fully portected.
Across the North West there are several measles outbreaks, and in Cumbria 20 confirmed or possible cases have been identified. Health experts in the county are urging people to get protected to stop the disease spreading further.
Measles is an infectious viral illness that is spread when infected people cough or sneeze.
The most common symptoms are fever, cough, sore eyes and a rash that develops 3-4 days after the onset of illness, starting with the face and head and spreading down the body.
The first dose of MMR vaccine is normally given at age 13 months and the second between the ages of 3 and 4 years, before the child goes to school.
However, children of any age (over one) including teenagers and young adults should still consider vaccination if they missed out at the recommended ages.
Dr Rebecca Wagstaff, (pictured) Deputy Director of Public Health at NHS Cumbria, said: “Measles is highly infectious and anyone who has not previously been vaccinated is at risk when it gets into a community, as it has done here.
“While vaccination rates amongst children in Cumbria are currently amongst the highest in the country, there are still a number of teenagers who failed to get protected when they were younger.
“It is not too late and no one, anywhere in Cumbria, should take the risk of catching measles when a safe and effective vaccine is available.”
Children are usually immunised with both doses of the MMR vaccine before they start school. The first MMR vaccination is given at around 13 months of age, with a booster dose given between 3 and 5 years old.
Anyone can check if they're fully immunised or arrange a free booster injection by seeking advice from their GP or Practice Nurse.
* Information on MMR vaccine is available at www.immunisation.nhs.uk
* Information on Measles, Mumps and Rubella is available at www.hpa.org.uk