EXPERTS in England have urged parents to make sure their children are vaccinated against measles, mumps and rubella at the correct time – while also reminding them that it is "never too late" to get them protected.
According to Public Health England 24,000 children per year do not receive the MMR vaccine when scheduled – from when children are aged 12 months – leaving them susceptible to the trio of diseases.
The vaccine is offered routinely at 12 months of age, with a second dose at three years and four months old.
As part of European Immunisation Week doctors in England have reminded parents that they should make sure their children get the MMR jab – even if they've missed their scheduled slot.
Head of Immunisation for Public Health England, Dr Mary Ramsay, said: "We're asking parents, young people and healthcare professionals to help us eradicate measles in this country. Back in the days before a vaccine was available, hundreds of thousands caught measles and around a hundred people died each year.
"But now, the whole community benefits from the herd immunity the safe and effective MMR vaccination offers – fewer people get ill and the disease's spread is restricted."
Dr Ramsay added that it was possible measles could be eradicated from the UK if the success of vaccinations continued.
She said: "The cases we are seeing currently in England are being confirmed mainly in adolescents and young adults, and it's never too late for them to have the vaccine.
"Those who have not received two doses of the vaccine in the past – or who are unsure – should speak to their GP. There's no harm in receiving an additional dose where there is any uncertainty."
Parents should keep a watchful eye out for symptoms of measles which include cold-like symptoms, sore red eyes, a high temperature or a red-brown blotchy rash.
Anyone with symptoms should see a GP but Dr Ramsay said patients should phone ahead to surgeries to warn them they are coming in.