SCHOOLS are urging parents to take action amid a spike in measles cases.

A national incident has been declared following outbreaks of the virus among unvaccinated people in London and the West Midlands.

In a bid to stop the spread, Cheshire West and Chester Council and local schools are encouraging residents to check they are up-to-date with their vaccinations.

A message sent to parents of Weaverham High School pupils read: “The free MMR vaccine is a safe and effective way of protecting against measles, as well as mumps and rubella, and help stop outbreaks in the community.

“We are calling on all parents and guardians to make sure that they and their children have had two doses of the MMR vaccine.

“Check your child’s Red Book to see if they’ve received MMR vaccinations as scheduled or check with your GP surgery if you’re unsure."

The Russett School, also in Weaverham, posted on Facebook: “Anyone who is not vaccinated can catch measles.

“Spending 15 minutes with someone with measles is enough to get the virus, which can be serious and sometimes fatal.”

Rudheath Senior Academy issued a similar message.

“Measles spreads fast,” read a post on the school’s Facebook page.

“Measles can have serious and sometimes fatal consequences, so make sure your child is up to date with MMR vaccinations and ask your GP practice about catch-up jabs if needed.”

Measles usually starts with cold-like symptoms including high fever, coughing, aching, blotchy rashes, and sore, red, watery eyes.

Children are offered two doses of the vaccine as part of the UK national vaccination programme.

However, MMR vaccination rates are showing a steady decline both nationally and locally.

As of September 2023, around 90 per cent of five-year-olds in Cheshire West and Chester have completed their MMR vaccination course.

This is well below the required level of 95 per cent set by the World Health Organisation.

Professor Helen Bromley, director of Public Health at Cheshire West and Chester Council, said: “Measles can spread very quickly and easily through unvaccinated people and can cause serious complications like ear infections, pneumonia and inflammation of the brain. It can be particularly serious for children and pregnant women.

“In some cases, people with measles may need to stay at hospital and, on rare occasions, the complications can lead to long-term disability or even death.

“Two doses of the MMR vaccine can protect you for life and, although it’s routinely offered to young children before they start school, it’s never too late to get your vaccines. You can contact your GP to book an appointment if you’re not up-to-date.”