WITH pupils back at school, the NHS is urging parents across Yorkshire to check their children are up-to-date with their MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccinations in the wake of measles cases rising across the country.

Childhood vaccination rates in England have fallen over the past ten years and new statistics show 8,600 children aged four and five years, starting in reception, across Yorkshire are not protected against catching measles, mumps and rubella.

Across England, 102,000 children starting school are at risk of catching measles.

Measles is highly infectious and if left unvaccinated nine out of ten children in a classroom will catch the disease if just one child is infectious.

Every region in England has reported confirmed cases of the infectious disease and cases to date are over double that of the whole of last year.

Whilst measles can be mild for some children, one in five will require a hospital visit and the infection can lead to complication in one in 15 – such as meningitis and sepsis.

There is no specific treatment for measles, so parents are being reminded that vaccination gives the best protection from serious illness.

Measles can start with cold-like symptoms such as a runny nose, sneezing and a cough with a rash not showing until they have been infectious for up to four days.

In a classroom it may not be easy to spot they have the measles infection at first and before they have a rash they could have infected nine out of ten of their unvaccinated classmates.

The MMR vaccine is given at one-year-old and again at around three years and four months in readiness for starting school.

Two doses are enough to give lifelong protection from becoming seriously unwell with mumps, measles and rubella. The MMR vaccine is often given at the same time as the pre-school booster including protection against polio. Anyone who has missed any of the vaccinations can catch up at any time.

It’s important we keep our little ones fully protected from measles. The MMR vaccine is the best possible way to keep our children safe and healthy. So, I am urging parents and guardians to check your child’s red book to make sure your child is fully vaccinated against this disease.

If any doses have been missed, you can make an appointment at your GP practice to catch up and become protected.

Dr Faisel Baig, NHS regional medical director for primary care