WARRINGTON residents are being reminded to check they are protecting against measles following a rise in cases across the country.

The council’s public health team is reminding people of the importance of checking that they and their children have had the MMR vaccine that protects against the disease.

Measles is a highly infectious disease that is spread through coughing and sneezing. It can lead to serious problems such as pneumonia, bronchitis, ear infections and on rare occasions, long-term disability or death.

Symptoms include a runny nose, cough, high fever, sore red watery eyes, and a blotchy red-brown rash. Measles is more contagious than COVID-19 and being in close contact with someone who has the virus is enough to catch it if you are not vaccinated. Just one person can pass the virus on to 15-20 people if they are in close proximity for a short period of time.

Measles isn’t just a just a childhood disease – it can make adults seriously unwell too. People in certain risk groups including babies and young children, pregnant women, and people with weakened immunity, are at increased risk of complications from measles.

The council says if you or your child have missed having the MMR vaccine, it is important that you contact your GP surgery to catch up as soon as possible.

It is free on the NHS, whatever your age, and takes just a few minutes.

Cllr Maureen McLaughlin, cabinet member for public health and wellbeing, said: “We are asking all parents and carers to make sure their children are up to date with their two MMR doses, especially before travelling over the half term and summer breaks.

“Vaccines are our best line of defence against diseases like measles, mumps and rubella, and help stop outbreaks occurring in the community. To see if your child is up to date with their MMR vaccines, check your child’s personal child health record (PCHR), known as the red book, or contact your GP practice.

“It’s never too late to catch up, and you can get the vaccine for free on the NHS.”

Anyone with symptoms of measles is advised to stay at home and phone their GP practice or NHS 111 for advice before visiting the practice or A&E. This will help to prevent the illness spreading further.

For more information about the MMR vaccine, visit: nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinations/mmr-vaccine