PARENTS in South Tyneside are being advised to have their children vaccinated because of an outbreak of measles.
The warning comes after recent figures from the Health Protection Agency (HPA) revealed 46 cases have been confirmed in the North East since September.
A further 50 suspected cases have also been reported.
Health experts say the vast majority of people diagnosed or suspected of having measles had not been vaccinated against the illness. A total of 24 people have, so far, needed hospital treatment.
Amanda Healy, South Tyneside’s director of public health, said: “We are urging parents to make sure their children have had primary immunisations but, in particular, the MMR jab so they are protected from measles, mumps and rubella.
“Vaccinations save lives and are one of the most effective measures to help people stay well.”
Meanwhile, GPs, out of hours services and hospitals have been notified of the outbreak.
Julia Waller, immunisation lead for the HPA in the North East, said: “This measles outbreak is very serious and we are likely to see many more cases.
“The sad thing is most, if not all of cases could have been avoided if people were up to date with vaccination.
“We know measles is highly infectious and spreads easily among those who are unvaccinated.”
The MMR vaccination is the combined vaccine that protects against measles, mumps and rubella.
The vaccine was introduced in 1988, but some parents refused to allow their children to have the triple vaccine.
Since then, the number of children who develop these conditions has fallen, but the current figures represent a sharp rise on last year.