PARENTS are being asked to help stop the spread of measles in the North East.
It comes as figures show there have been 214 confirmed cases in the region since September last year.
Health chiefs say the majority of cases have been in schoolchildren who have not been vaccinated against the potentially fatal disease, as well as young adults.
Now Wearside GPs are inviting those aged 10 to 19 who haven’t had the two required doses of the MMR vaccine, to visit a surgery and do so.
Nonnie Crawford, Sunderland’s director of public health, said: “It’s really good news that 77 per cent of GP practices in Sunderland have signed up to this scheme and we’re hoping more will join it in the coming weeks.
“We’d urge any parents who haven’t had their children vaccinated against measles to act now.
“While there is no treatment for measles, it can be prevented with the MMR vaccine, with two doses to ensure maximum protection.”
“Anyone who isn’t sure if they’ve been vaccinated against measles can check their immunisation status with their GP.
“The vaccine can be given at any age so if you’ve missed out in the past, there’s still time to catch up now.”
Measles is spread through direct contact with an infected person or through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Commonly it begins with a fever, cough, runny nose and red, watery eyes.
This is then followed with a rash that starts on the face and upper neck a few days later, which then spreads down the upper body, extending to the arms, hands, legs and feet.
Coun John Kelly, who is responsible for public health at Sunderland City Council, said: “Measles can be a distressing and potentially life threatening illness.
“Although we’ve been fortunate to have only had two confirmed cases in Sunderland up until now, people travel widely outside the city and there’s always the risk of coming into contact with measles
“It’s also really important that parents and young people take up the offer if they do receive a letter from their GP inviting them to come in for the MMR vaccine.”
Those concerned about measles should contact their GP, NHS Direct on 0845 46 47, or call 111 in the first instance.