Following the recent measles outbreak in Wales, the government has initiated a vaccine drive in England, where it fears the virus may a spread next.
The epidemic is spreading via a seam of unvaccinated children between the ages of 10 and 16, say health officials.
Doctors will be proactively contacting those who are not vaccinated, and the NHS has prepared 1 million doses of the MMR vaccine.
“I would urge parents and guardians of 10 -16 year olds to think: has your child had their MMR jabs?” said Dr David Geddes, Head of Primary Care Commissioning at NHS England.
“If they have not had the required 2 doses of the vaccine or you are not sure, contact your local GP surgery and get the jabs. Young people who are 16 and over, but not had their jabs should also come forward to get themselves vaccinated,” he said in a statement.
According to data published today by the Department of health, there were 587 confirmed measles cases in England in the first three months of 2013, following a record number of almost 2,000 cases in 2012.
According to the health officials the recent increase in measles cases is due to 10-16 years olds who missed out on the vaccination program due to now discredited concerns over the MMR vaccine.
“There are now one third of a million children in this age group in England who have not been immunised against measles and a further one third of a million who have only had one jab,” said a statement from the Department of Health.
Kate Davies, Head of Public Health at NHS England said: “GPs will also be checking their lists to proactively identify children and young people who have not been vaccinated or have only had one dose and calling them in. Parents and young people don’t need to wait to be contacted.
“If they are worried they should contact their GP surgery and if necessary make an appointment,” she said in a statement.
A recent outbreak in Swansea, Wales has prompted the push in England.
Prof David Salisbury, director of immunization at the Department of Health, called on parents to act.
“Swansea is the wake-up call for parents and it tells us just how infectious measles is – it just spreads like wildfire,” he told the BBC.
“If you think your child has not had one or even two doses of MMR, for goodness sake contact your GP and get it sorted out.”