MEASLES cases are on the rise across the UK and people in west Wales are being urged to ensure that they and their children have been vaccinated.

Hywel Dda University Health Board is encouraging all children, teenagers and adults who have not had two doses of the MMR (Measles, Mumps and Rubella) vaccine to book their vaccinations as soon as possible.

The first dose of the MMR vaccine is offered by the NHS at 12 months old and the second is offered at three years and four months old. This ensures that children are fully protected before starting school.

The health board says that anyone born after 1970 who has either not had any of the vaccines or has only had one dose is considered unprotected.

The MMR vaccine protects against the three infectious diseases of measles, mumps and rubella (German measles) and is safe and effective according to the health board.

Measles can make both children and adults very unwell and can also lead to life-changing complications in some people with the infection, this includes babies, young children, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems.

Since the start of the covid-19 pandemic, the number of people taking up the MMR vaccine has dropped and the Hywel Dda area has a lower average in the uptake compared to many other areas across Wales.

Dr Ardiana Gjini, Hywel Dda’s executive director of public health, said: “Measles is one of the most infectious diseases and nearly everyone who catches it will develop a high fever and a rash. One in every 15 people will get severe complications, including infection of the lungs (pneumonia) or brain (encephalitis).

“It has only been 10 years since a measles outbreak in Wales over 1,200 people infected, 88 needing hospital treatment and one person sadly died.

“The fall in the take up of the MMR vaccine in the recent years means we have many children and people in our communities vulnerable and unprotected against measles, which causes a serious illness for many people.

“The MMR vaccine is safe and highly effective in protecting you against measles, mumps and rubella. With an increase in cases reported in the Midlands, I want to urge parents and carers to think about the safety of their children and ensure our communities here in west Wales are protected.”

Anyone who is not vaccinated and comes into contact with someone with measles may be advised to stay at home and away from work, school and public places for 21 days to ensure that it is not passed on to others should they become infected. Teachers, health and care workers and other staff may also be asked to stay at home if unvaccinated and come into contact with someone with measles.

The MMR vaccine is given free of charge on the NHS at GP surgeries. Anyone who wants to book in a vaccine should do so by contacting their GP. The GP can also be contacted if you are unsure if you or your child has had two doses of the vaccine.