A Bolton doctor who oversaw the vaccination programme against Covid in the town is urging people to make sure they get the jab to prevent the spread of measles.

There have been 24 outbreaks of the infection in the North West between October 1 last year and February 13 with the majority of these coming in clusters in Greater Manchester.

The UK Health Security Agency is working with local authorities and the NHS to monitor the situation.

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Bolton Doctor Helen Wall, clinical director for population health at NHS Greater Manchester and who oversaw the vaccination against Covid, has urged people to get the jab against measles.

She said: “Ensuring yourself and your child are fully vaccinated against measles is really important. It not only protects you and your family against the illness, but it also protects those who you come into contact with who may be vulnerable – such as babies, toddlers and the elderly.

‘Since the introduction of the first measles vaccine in 1968 into the routine childhood immunisation programme it is estimated that more than 20 million cases and 4,500 deaths have been averted in the UK. Unfortunately, following a decade long trend of a fall in childhood vaccine uptake we are now seeing a resurgence of measles.”

“It is also important to be aware of what symptoms to look out for as the measles virus is highly infectious.”

Symptoms of measles appear between seven and ten days after first contact with the virus and include cold like issues such as a runny nose, sneezing and a cough, red, sore or watery eyes, a high temperature which may reach 40C, a red brown rash, spots which form blotchy patches and small white spots.

Dr Linda Charles-Ozuzu, regional director of commissioning at NHS England in the north west said the condition is “preventable.”

“The MMR vaccine is the best way we can protect children from measles, which is highly contagious and can be very dangerous in some cases.

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“Last week, thousands of North West school-aged children, who are yet to have one or both of the MMR vaccines, started to receive invitations from the NHS to book a catch-up appointment.

“The recent increase in cases is worrying, but measles is a preventable disease, and two doses of the vaccine is enough to give lifelong protection from measles, mumps and rubella, so please take up the offer of vaccination if your child has yet to have one, or both of the vaccines.”