THERE are nearly 5,000 children at risk from measles in Hywel Dda Health Board’s three counties according to Public Health Wales.

The latest figures show that more than 4,800 children between five and 16 have not received two doses of the MMR vaccine.

A warning about the importance of vaccination comes as a measles outbreak continues to affect the Newport and Torfaen areas of east Wales, with 17 confirmed cases.

Although there are no confirmed measles cases in Hywel Dda University Health Board at present, Public Health Wales is warning that while the 95% vaccination target has not been reached, cases and outbreaks of this potentially deadly infection could be seen anywhere in Wales.

Ros Jervis, Director of Public Health for Hywel Dda University Health Board, said: “The simple, safe and effective way to stop measles is to have two MMR jabs.

“Parents appear to understand this well – the current outbreak in the Newport and Torfaen areas has resulted in more than 1,000 children receiving MMR vaccinations.

“With a large measles outbreak only a plane ride away in Europe, a new school term starting and popular events taking place throughout the season, there is a significant risk of unvaccinated children anywhere in Wales coming into contact with people who have measles, either at home or abroad.

“Children who have not received two doses of MMR are highly likely to contract measles if they come into contact with someone who has the infection, as it is very contagious.

“People who contract measles can be left with permanent disabilities, and the infection can even be fatal, and so I would urge parents of unvaccinated children not to be complacent.”

The outbreak can be directly linked to an ongoing outbreak of measles in Europe, which has seen more than 14,000 cases and dozens of deaths since the beginning of the year.

The symptoms of measles include a high temperature, cough, runny nose, red eyes (conjunctivitis), and a distinctive red rash.

Parents whose children are not up to date with two doses of MMR should ensure that they contact their GP practice to arrange this quick, safe and effective vaccine.