North East saw MMR jabs triple this year - but still had 28 new measles cases last month

Health officials have urged parents to ensure their children have had the MMR vaccine amid a 'worryingly low' uptake in some areas
Health officials have urged parents to ensure their children have had the MMR vaccine amid a 'worryingly low' uptake in some areas -Credit:Getty Images/iStockphoto

Three times as many "catch-up" MMR vaccines were given in the North East in the first three months of this year, compared to last.

Despite this, the North East as a region still saw 28 new confirmed measles cases in April. This comes amid a spike in measles cases - England has seen more than 1,200 since last October.

In response, the NHS and UK Health Security Agency are mounting campaigns to urge people, and especially parents, to ensure they and their children are fully protected by the MMR vaccine, and vaccine drives have aimed at people who had previously missed vital doses.

Nationally, public health bosses said more than 360,000 doses of the MMR jab were delivered around the country to those under 25. In the North East and Yorkshire, between January and March there were 9,028 jabs administered to those between five and 25, up from 2,672 in January to March 2023.

The latest surveillance data from UKHSA shows since 1 October 2023 more than 1,200 cases of measles have been confirmed in England (1,212 as of April 22) – 45.5% (551) of these cases have been in the West Midlands, 26.4% (320) in London, and 9.6% (116) in the East Midlands.

The campaign this year saw more than a million parents and carers of six to 11-year-olds sent emails, letters and texts inviting them to book an appointment with their child’s GP practice for their missed MMR vaccine. Children should have had two doses of the vaccine by the time they are five in order to be fully protected.

UKHSA data shows that, even just since April 1, there have been 230 newly confirmed measles cases in England. Though London and the West Midlands still have the most cases, the North East has been the third-worst hit region - with 28 new cases, making up 12.2%.

Steve Russell, the NHS national director for vaccinations and screening, said: "It is hugely encouraging to see such significant increases in people coming forward for the MMR vaccine since we launched our catch-up campaign earlier this year.

"Thanks to the hard work of local areas, who hosted pop up clinics in community spaces like libraries and sports clubs, and university ‘freshers fairs’, among other initiatives, tens of thousands more young people are now protected against measles, mumps and rubella.

"Measles is a very serious illness and with data showing cases are still being reported around the country, it is vital that everyone who is still unprotected comes forward to get their two doses as soon as possible, by contacting their GP surgery or visiting one of the pop-up vaccination clinics running in some of the most at-risk areas."