Families of children in Medway who may have missed out on their measles jabs are being urged to make sure the youngsters are protected against the disease.

Local GP practices are contacting the families of patients aged 10 to 16 who, health records show, have missed out on vaccination against measles, mumps and rubella.

This follows the launch of a campaign to vaccinate one million children and teenagers across the country against measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) after a national increase in measles cases.

The vast majority of children and teenagers in Kent and Medway are up-to-date with their immunisations.

However, several thousand of the 135,000 10 to 16 year olds have not been immunised against MMR or have had only one of the two jabs needed for maximum immunity.

Dr Alison Barnett, Director of Public Health for Medway, said: “While there is no immediate cause for concern in this area – in fact there was just one confirmed case of measles in Medway in the first three months of this year – it is a wise precaution for parents to make sure their children have had both MMR vaccinations.

“Take-up rates for MMR immunisation in Kent and Medway are higher than the national average but we would like even more children to be protected.

“Both doses of the vaccination are needed to give children maximum protection against these serious diseases, and reduce the risk of outbreaks.

“GP practices will be contacting the families of children aged between 10 and 16 who, according to child health records, have not had their immunisations.

“I would urge that all families act on the invitation.”

Experts believe the national rise in measles cases can be mostly attributed to the proportion of unprotected 10 to 16 year olds, who missed out on vaccination in the late 1990s and early 2000s when concern around the discredited link between autism and the vaccine was widespread. After many years of low vaccination uptake, measles became re-established in 2007.

Dr Nathan Nathan, Chair of NHS Medway Clinical Commissioning Group said: “Measles is not a mild illness and is extremely infectious. It is very unpleasant and can lead to children becoming very seriously ill, and in very rare cases, to their death.

“Children, teenagers and young adults who have not been vaccinated at all against MMR should urgently seek at least one dose which will give them 95 per cent protection against measles. A second dose is then needed for almost complete protection.

“Although GPs are contacting families direct, I would urge any parents who think their child may not have had both vaccinations to check their red book, which has the child’s vaccination record or, if they cannot find that, to contact their GP practice.
“Now is the time to catch up on missed vaccinations and ensure their children are protected now and into the future.

“I would also urge all parents of young children, who are being invited for their routine immunisations, to make sure they take up the offer. More than 100 children in England have been hospitalised with measles so far this year – make sure you give your child the very best protection you can.”

The first MMR immunisation is given to children between the ages of 12 and 13 months. The second dose should be given once they are three years four months and before they are five, or before they start school.