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Warning as measles cases hit nine-year high

Parents of children who may have missed out on MMR immunisation are being urged to contact their GP for catch up vaccinations as measles rates hit the highest levels since 1994.

The Health Protection Authority says there were 2,016 confirmed cases of measles in England and Wales in 2012, with many associated with prolonged outbreaks in Merseyside and Surrey and Sussex, as well as several smaller outbreaks in travelling communities across England and Wales.

Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunisation at the HPA, says that coverage of MMR is now at historically high levels but the infection continues to pose a risk to toddlers in whom vaccination has been delayed and teenagers who were not vaccinated at the routine age, who may pick the infection up at school.

The risk of measles risk is high among communities that are poorly vaccinated, and the disease is circulating in European countries popular with holidaymakers, Dr Ramsay says.

The HPA has urged parents to ensure their children have had two doses of the MMR vaccine and ask the GP to check their records if they are unsure.

‘Parents of unvaccinated children, as well as older teenagers and adults who may have missed MMR vaccination, should make an appointment with their GP to get vaccinated,’ says Dr Ramsay.