MMR vaccine appeals to parents after an increase in the number of cases of measles, while thousands of children return to school

Parents in Somerset are encouraged to check if their children have had two doses of the MMR vaccine.

The public health team of Somerset County Council has issued the call after Bristol and other areas in the UK have seen a large turnout of measles this year.

Bristol has seen 86 confirmed cases of measles and another 20 probable cases since January.

Measles can be prevented by the safe, effective MMR vaccine that is offered as part of the immunization program for children.

Children usually receive the vaccine within one month of their first birthday and before starting school after three years and four months.

The first symptoms usually develop about 10 days after you have been infected
The first symptoms usually develop about 10 days after you have been infected

Dominic Mellon, consultant in infectious disease control for Public Health England South West, said: "Unfortunately, we know that the school environment is a perfect place where infections can circulate and spread.

"If your child gets measles, they will miss a few days at school in addition to being very unwell.

"We know that life can become busy with children, if you do not remember, just contact your doctor who can check your child's data.

"If they have missed a dose, a catch-up vaccine can easily be arranged by contacting your doctor."

A child who receives the MMR vaccine
A child who receives the MMR vaccine

Councilor Christine Lawrence, cabinet member for public health and well-being at the Somerset County Council, said: "I would strongly encourage parents and caregivers to check that their children have been fully immunized.

"Somerset has seen only two cases of measles so far this year, but we should not be complacent.

"It is never too late to be vaccinated, measles are very contagious and can be very nasty, even life-threatening, so if you or your children need it, do not stop vaccinating.

"It's quick and easy to get and it's really the best protection for everyone, it's time to make measles a disease of the past."

What is measles?

A young girl with measles
A young girl with measles

Measles is a viral disease, starting with cold symptoms such as runny nose, high temperature and painful eyes.

A few days later the characteristic reddish-brown spotty rash will appear.

Usually starting on the head or neck and then to the rest of the body.

Once the distinctive result appears, they must stay away from school for at least four days to reduce the risk of spreading the infection.

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