Public Health professionals are urging parents in North Wales to act quickly to vaccinate their children against measles.
There are over 10,000 children who are not fully protected by the vaccine in the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board area and therefore at risk of contracting measles.
In 2012 we saw how quickly the disease can spread when over 60 people contracted measles during an outbreak starting in Porthmadog.
Siobhan Jones Consultant in Public Health said: ‘‘Although the outbreak is at present affecting the Swansea, Neath, Port Talbot and Llanelli areas, it is likely to spread to other areas. The likelihood that unvaccinated children across the country will come into contact with those already infected is high. It is vital that parents act now to ensure that their children are fully immunised with the MMR vaccine.
“The outbreak is particularly affecting children aged between 10 and 18 who missed doses of MMR at a younger age. Therefore Public Health Wales is urging parents to remember that it is not only younger children who need to be vaccinated urgently.
"The MMR vaccine is recommended by the World Health Organization, UK Department of Health and Public Health Wales as the most effective and safe way to protect children against measles. It is never too late to catch up on missed doses."
Dr Sian Owen, paediatrician and lead immunisation doctor for Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board said: ‘‘Measles cannot be taken lightly because you can never tell who will go on to develop the more serious complications of pneumonia or encephalitis (inflammation of the brain). MMR vaccination offers the only protection against these complications."
Public Health Wales and Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board is urging parents to work with health professionals and schools to ensure their children are vaccinated against measles, mumps and rubella. As children return to school after the Easter holidays, the opportunities for measles to spread increase - now is the time to vaccinate your children.