PARENTS in Bolton are being warned to protect their children against measles after national figures revealed outbreaks to be at an 18-year high last year.

Although Bolton has only reported three cases since January 1, health authorities are urging parents to make sure their children have the vaccination.

In 2012, there were 181 measles cases in Greater Manchester, with 45 per cent of them in Bolton, which had 80 cases, compared to just one in 2011. More than 500 children have been immunised since an outbreak in the borough in November last year.

But despite encouraging signs since the turn of the year, Bolton health protection specialist Graham Munslow insisted parents needed to remain vigilant.

He said: “Parents should not get complacent. It is still about, we have still got enough susceptible children about for it to come back.

“We have thousands of vaccines, everything is in place. “It’s the same message as when we were in the middle of the outbreak last year—please make sure you child is protected. It’s never too late to have the first or the second vaccination.”

Parents should ensure their child has had both the MMR jab and the booster after 2,016 cases of measles were confirmed in England and Wales last year.

Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunisation at the Health Protection Agency, said: “Coverage of MMR is now at historically high levels but measles is highly infectious.

“It can affect anyone who is susceptible, including toddlers in whom vaccination has been delayed.”

Anyone who thinks they, or their child, may not have had both MMR injections can contact their GP to check their records.