Parents of children starting school in September are being urged to check if their children have had two doses of MMR.

Following a widespread outbreak of measles in Bristol, Public Health England and Bristol City Council are reminding parents about the importance of the MMR vaccine. The MMR vaccine protects against Mumps, Measles and Rubella.

The appeal comes after Bristol has seen a huge rise of measles this year. Since January, Bristol has seen 86 confirmed cases of measles, 20 probable.

Measles is preventable through the safe, effective MMR vaccine which is offered as part of the childhood immunisation programme. Children usually receive the vaccine within a month of their first birthday and ahead of starting school at 3 years 4 months.

Dominic Mellon, Consultant in Communicable Disease Control for Public Health England South West, said, “Unfortunately, we know that the school environment provides a perfect place for infections to circulate and spread. This is why we are asking parents to add the MMR vaccine to their back to school lists.

“If your child catches measles, apart from feeling very unwell they will also miss out on several days at school.

“We know life can get busy with children. If you can’t remember, just contact your GP who will be able to check your child’s records. If they have missed a dose, a catch up vaccine can easily be arranged by contacting your GP.

“As I said, measles is a really unpleasant viral illness, starting with cold like symptoms such as runny nose, high temperature and sore eyes. A few days later the distinctive red-brown blotchy rash will appear. Usually starting on the head or neck and then spreading outwards to the rest of the body. Once the distinctive rash appears, they should stay away from school for at least four days. This is to reduce the risk of spreading the infection.”