Parents are again being urged to make sure their children are vaccinated against measles – as cases in Sheffield have almost doubled from last year.
The advice is being issued as figures are released today as part of the Government’s catch-up programme for the measles, mumps and rubella – or MMR – jab.
So far this year there have been nine cases of measles in Sheffield, compared with five for the whole of 2012.
The catch-up programme, run by Sheffield Council, Public Health England, the NHS and the Department of Health, aims to prevent measles outbreaks by giving the injection to as many unvaccinated and partially-vaccinated children aged 10 to 16 as possible, in time for the next school year.
The age group is considered most at risk because of a drop in the number of jabs administered in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
Controversy surrounded the vaccine at the time after it was wrongly linked to autism and bowel cancer.
Dr Stephen Morton, Public Health England’s centre director for Yorkshire and the Humber, said: “Our ambition is to vaccinate at least 95 per cent of 10- to 16-year-olds, in time for the next school year.
“Local public health teams have been working hard with children and teenagers to encourage uptake of the vaccination.
“The message to parents who think their child may not be fully immunised is to check today and book an appointment with their GP.
“The vaccine is there ready to be used, and could save a child’s life. Measles is a serious illness and can lead to serious complications.”
Dr Morton said one in five teenagers diagnosed in the UK this year have been hospitalised.
“We are getting regular feedback about what is happening on the ground and are encouraged by the very high levels of involvement by GP practices,” he added.
“We will shortly be getting results from a new monitoring system that will tell us the number of vaccines given to children.”
There have been no cases this year in Rotherham or Barnsley, but two have been seen in Doncaster.
Across Yorkshire and the Humber there have been more than 60 cases, and in England as a whole 962 patients have been diagnosed with measles so far in 2013.
Health chiefs are hoping to avoid an epidemic similar to a serious outbreak in South Wales, in which more than 1,000 people have come down with measles over the last six months.
Initial signs of measles include cold-like symptoms, red eyes, fever and pale spots in the mouth and throat, followed by a red-brown rash which spreads to cover most of the body.